Al Dimeola
Kent Stage Kent Ohio
February 22 2017
by Jack Jolieri of Rubix Wheel

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From the youtube channel of Elliowb2

 As soon as I arrived home from band rehearsal on Weds I received a text from my drummer friend, Charley.  “My brother has a free ticket to Al Di Meola tonight in Kent.”  It was a no brainer.  I immediately said yes and loaded in my gear, got ready, and made it to Charley’s house within a half hour.  Right away I shook hands with his brother and within minutes was in the back of an SUV headed North on 71.  A couple hours later we arrived at the venue, and parked in a nearby garage.

The Kent Stage is an historic type venue on the Campus of Kent State, with seating for about 700 people.  It is a Theater type Venue with lots of cushioned seats.   We gathered to our seats and settled in for an evening that would soon be historic.  I walked to the stage to get a closer glimpse at what Al would be playing through, but saw no pedalboard and a Fuchs Halfstack Amp behind a buffer. Al’s guitar tech came out and told the crowd the rules.  Camera and videos were fine, just not so much that the person behind you has to watch the show through your phone.  “Al and his band will be playing an Electric set, then an intermission, then an Acoustic set, then an Electric set.”  This was the Elegant Gypsy 40th Anniversary Tour, named after the album Di Meola had released in the 1977. Di Melola came out to a raucous applause, and proceeded to talk to the audience and mention that his guitar tech was the late Prince’s guitar tech.  He said a few words, then with some mood lightening band banter, they began set one.  Most of the first set was Jazz Fusion, Al’s forte.  From left to right his band consisted of a keyboardist, violinist, Al center stage, bassist, drummer, and an aux percussion player(bongos, congas, etc).  So since I couldn’t find a setlist for the show I’m going to basically describe it to you as best I can.  Set one was mesmerizing and intense.  Al plays very fast at times and the band keeps up the pace.  The band was tight.  Other times the songs would be more elegant and emotional.  All songs throughout the night contained zero vocals, and Al’s guitar work was the main focus for the listener.  Set one had me head bobbin’ and really feeling the groove. Set two began with Al mentioning his dear friend and pioneer of fusion guitar, Larry Coryell, who had recently passed.  Al played a song for him, and he dedicated another to his 16 month old baby girl, Dream Sequences.  He was playing the second set sitting down with a Classical Guitar, some songs picking, some songs plucking.  After a couple songs the band came out one by one and added to what Al was playing.  First the percussionist, then the violinist, then the rest of the band.  The music of the second set was very intriguing.  As a Classically trained guitarist, I could appreciate the depth and dexterity of each song that was played.  Crescendo and Decrescendo(peaks and valleys), intensity and softness, the second set reminded me why Di Meola is World Famous.  Some songs reminded me of the Spanish Mountains, and others made me reminisce about European landscapes.  Some just made me feel as if I was in love in Europe. Set three began with Al back on his Black PRS Singlecut Solidbody.  He was really into the third set, as was the band and the audience.  The band was relaxed and more fluid than the first set, delivering powerful renditions of Al’s amazing songs.  The highlight of set three was Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog, with the vocals being played by the Violinist and the band playing the riffs for the song. But to be completely honest, I enjoyed the raw energy and spontaneity of set three most of all.  After the band took a bow, the audience went wild and the band came out for two or three encores.  Di Meola gave Ohio a show worth the ticket price, and the audience was loving the entire concert. Many of us were floored that he came to Ohio.  And he was very gracious, “I should come to Ohio more often.  I haven’t played here in twenty years.”  Di Meola is quite a character, as witnessed by his storytelling and good humour.  He told some short stories and entertained the audience with the professional style one might expect from a man who has been travelling his whole life.  And he didn’t look a day over 40.  Let’s just say it was a great show, and I was honored to see one of the greatest guitarists in modern times. Video by Jack O’Handley of Rubix Wheel:

by Jack O’Handley of Rubix Wheel

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