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Concert Review: Pat Metheny Solo at Rockport Music

The famed guitarist steps out on his own at a Massachusetts concert hall

Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny at the Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport, Mass., May 23, 2019 (photo: Rockport Music)

There is an inherent risk with a solo jazz guitar concert that rather than experiencing a tour of a verdant garden, with life flowing in all directions, an audience might be subjected to a monoculture. Proceedings can get very same-y, awfully quickly. Which is perhaps why Pat Metheny had put off doing for so long what he is now doing, and did admirably on May 23 at the Shalin Liu Performance Center, a sea-jewel of a concert venue tucked on a ridge above the Atlantic in Rockport, on Massachusetts’ Cape Ann. As the Impressions sang, people get ready, and maybe it took Metheny the bulk of his career to prepare for a night like this.

The bulk of the show is played on acoustic guitar, Metheny starting with a doozy of a number knit together from pieces of an expansive back catalog. Even the diehards recognized the folly of playing spot-the-tune; old chordal patterns registered in re-engineered forms—fresh guitar flora and fauna dancing, shimmying, shimmering, and probing a backdrop of new sonic space.  

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Colin Fleming

Colin Fleming writes fiction and nonfiction on myriad topics—art, film, music, sports, literature—for a wide range of publications. He also talks regularly on the radio for the likes of NPR and Downtown with Rich Kimball. His most recent book, Buried on the Beaches: Cape Stories for Hooked Hearts and Driftwood Souls (Tailwinds), was published in 2019, with an entry in Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series on Sam Cooke’s Live at the Harlem Square Club to follow in 2020. Find him on the web at (where you’ll also find his unique online journal, the Many Moments More blog) and on Twitter @colinfleminglit. He lives in Boston and has contributed to JazzTimes since 2006.