Live Pop Music: Terry Reid at McCabe’s Guitar Shop

By Mike Finkelstein

On Friday night veteran rock singer and guitarist Terry Reid performed a very relaxed and intimate solo set of his songs at McCabe’s Guitar shop.    Throughout the performance he wove together a tapestry of friendly audience banter and stories of his past with his music.   One really could not have asked for more of a living room vibe than was present in this entertaining evening.

Having been on the rock circuit for nearly 40 years, Reid declined offers to be the lead singer of both Led Zeppelin (at the time the New Yardbirds) and Deep Purple.   And he had a few marvelous stories to tell, in his heavy English accent.  He also seemed to realize that he could tell those stories all night long, but was determined not to let them get excessive, recalling that he’d once seen Ramblin’ Jack Elliot perhaps earn his own moniker by telling more stories than he played songs.

Reid walked on stage clad in white khaki slacks, white tennis shoes, a black sport jacket, a lime green tie and a hip straw hat. By the end of the evening he would roll the sleeves of the jacket nearly to his elbows.   Announcing that all of the large acoustic and electric jazz box guitars onstage were his “children,” he played them with the love of a proud father.  The show was loosely structured and he tried songs that he clearly had not visited in a while.   Some were spur of the moment decisions.  So, when he sighed and murmured as he recalled the songs on the fly, it added some intrigue.

None of the guitars appeared to be in standard tuning, dropped down to D and sometimes lower. In the solo format this added a lot of character to each song, with his guitar playing gathering steam throughout the evening.   Familiar chords were played with unorthodox fingerings, and used a lot of jazz voicings that meshed with the lower tones of his voice perfectly.   In fact, it was easy to hear why so many great songs have been written in open tunings.

Reid’s stage presence physically evoked that of Keith Richards.  The same lunges and arm movements were at work.   Of course, he made light of all of this but, happily, it was still rock ‘n’ roll.  In a night full of good moments, perhaps the best was when he launched into a truly beautiful solo version of the Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry, Baby.”  In that tune, and elsewhere, Reid affirmed that the simple connection between a good singer, a good guitar and a good song will always produce the purest musical moments.   Bravo!

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