I’d totally forgotten about the upcoming John MacLaughlin gig; in got tickets on the day of the gig. Glad I did. He was playing with Shakti — mellow, acoustic (well except for half the instruments), Indian.

If you’d only heard him recorded, you might feel that a John MacLaughlin gig is to be impressed, rather than entertained. The speed, fluency and virtuosity of the performance is astounding; but on record, you wonder whether there is more. This music needs performance, though; live, the flurry of notes blends, the music Star breathes; it’s hypnotic, engrossing, compelling and, frankly, exhausting. I came out with knees hardly working.

I was slightly irritated by the formality of the setting of the music, though: the introductions were Hollywood-gushing; a 2 hour set with no interval was bladder-bursting.

I got the metro home; bought a ticket which I didn’t need as the SAGE tickets count; took till two thirds of the way across the river toward Gateshead, before we realised we were heading in the wrong direction. Senility approachs

Originally published on my old blog site.