Jesse Cook @ The Concert Hall, 1/25/13
Jesse Cook is a talented flamenco guitarist known for his worldly arrangements. It’s not only his immense skill that defines his live play, but also his use of the audience as an instrument. Nearly every song picks up a clapping line, at times thunderous, that functions as added percussion. It truly invigorates his music.
Maybe it was just the choice of a venue that got me. The Concert Hall has the look and feel of a church, right down to pews for seating. The atmosphere combined with the general purity of Jesse’s music made for some moving pieces. The setting didn’t keep the audience from getting up to dance either, as the show closed out on an energetic note.
Jesse is backed by a rhythm guitarist, and three multi-instrumentalists who primarily fulfill the roles of bass, percussion and violin. The wide stage was littered with many different pieces of equipment for each to use. The constantly varying instrumentation keeps the flamenco sound very fresh. Especially impressive is their drummer’s ability to play a full kit barehanded, which was done so well that there was no audible difference.
The band would play two sets, and kept things fairly lighthearted with a humorous and humble dialogue from Jesse. Set two featured one of my favorite songs, “On Walks the Night,” as an apt opener, and closed with his most famous song, “Mario Takes a Walk.” Throughout, we heard a few new songs from last year’s LP, The Blue Guitar Sessions. An encore featuring Simon & Garfunkel’s “Cecilia” was a welcome surprise and a fun closer.