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Gareth Pearson/David Browne Murray

Venue: Strand Bar
Town: Strandhill
Date: 22/2/16
Website: http://www.garethpearson.com

Two contrasting styles showcased here in an absorbing gig that lasted the guts of three hours. David Browne Murray has been steadily building a reputation for himself as a guitarist of some quality over the last couple of years, and a goodly sized Sligo audience-including a slew of local axemen-saw and heard what all the fuss was about. David's is a quiet, diffident, approach-until he starts to play. Opening with a song by The Killers-Read My Mind-he executed some dazzling fingerpicking on this uptempo piece, and proceeded, over the remainder of his set, which was a lovely balance of covers and originals, to run the stylistic gamut, between ragtime, power chords, and pastoral folk, helped, as was Gareth in no small way, by the warmth of the sound achieved by Nigel Martyn. I could cheerfully listen to this man anytime, and have greatly enjoyed his album since.

Gareth Pearson, dubbed "The Welsh Tornado" is a much feted practitioner who numbers such greats as Jan Akkerman, and Tommy Emmanuel among his fans and friends. His is a much more upfront presence, dazzling dexterity mixed with old style showmanship. Opening with "Oh by Jingo, Oh by Gee", fast fingerpicking redolent of a bluegrass style set down the first marker, and for the rest of the evening notes tumbled and fell from fingers and strings with consummate mastery. His original pieces, among them "Yolanda's Nobel Prize", a complex, fast picked double noted tune, are sophisticated constructs which engage the listener at every turn, and he imposes the same dexterity on pieces like Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean", which he makes his own. A passing reference to Tommy Emmanuel leads him into "Walkin' The Strings ", delivered at a furious pace, showcasing his understanding of dynamics.

The rest of a lengthy evening's gig passed quickly, before he invited David to share the stage to close out the night. They duetted on Emmanuel's "Those Who Wait", before heading off to rapturous, and much deserved applause. They returned for "Dust Devils/Tico Tico", and "Hocus Pocus", and left us to reflect on what, by any standard, was a fabulous, beautifully realised evening.

Oliver P. Sweeney.

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