Tim Rose and Andy Philip are two fantastic guitarists. That much was obvious as they began their first song of their Jazz Bar set, ‘Wichita Lineman’ by Glen Campbell. All seats were full and there were many people leaning on the bar and standing at the back of room: the show’s name is clearly a big draw. It took some time for them to engage with the crowd verbally and when they did it was only in short soundbites. Moving through their instrumental versions of 70s (and other) classics, they explained their choices amusingly: ‘It’s a bit like the Tour de France - we straddle over boundaries,’ taking picks from late 60s and early 80s music too.
‘You’re So Vain’ by Carly Simon was an early highlight, with guitar solos switching between the two organically. Stevie Wonder’s ‘Don’t You Worry About A Thing’ followed, its lilting start belying a blistering solo that later emerged. At this point the duo stopped to explain the concept behind their show: by removing the vocals from songs, they hoped to discover the meanings of the melodies without their the lyrics. It half made sense, but the concept never quite worked: it felt more like a vehicle for guitar-solo ostentation than a pushing of musical boundaries. The reworkings were impressive and the solos were excellent, but there was rarely a sense of purpose to the show and at its least engaging points it felt more like the two friends were jamming together than delivering a performance.
However, their rendition of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Edith and the Kingpin’ had a real spark to it: verses were hushed and reverberated freely around the room, while the chorus was expansive and climactic. ‘Carole King is our next victim,’ they joked, but their cover of ‘It’s Too Late’ had a good balance of respect to King and musical innovation: it shone, given a 7/8 bossa nova groove. Rose and Philip are extremely gifted and performed technically complicated solos live almost flawlessly. Nevertheless, their crowd engagement was minimal and many of the songs were far too similarly reworked. Insertions of gratuitous solos was often the only change made, making this an hour of highly proficient musical performance, but nothing more.