To the White Rock Theatre last night to see the Allan Holdsworth Trio: AH on electric guitar, Gary Husband on drums, Jimmy Johnson on bass. A few years ago I would never have gone to see a concert like this, but my tastes have changed somewhat and down here we have to be grateful for what we get. I had a couple of drinks sitting outside the White Rock Hotel beforehand on a glorious evening and couldn’t help noticing the band sitting at a table near the bar; later stood right beside Mr Holdsworth at the bar, but I didn’t approach him. Given the complexity of the music he doesn’t appear to worry about not drinking before a show, although during the concert he only drank water. The audience of around 200, in a venue that can seat over 1000, were the predictable muso men with a smattering of local musicians I recognised and even a few women.
Two 45 minute sets with AH playing one of the smallest guitars I have ever seen - no machine heads natch - standing by an array of effects boxes at hand height. The music was pretty samey with jazzy chords superseded by speed-of-light soloing, although there was a nice sequence of atmospheric chording at one point. Gary Husband, another of my peers, has played with the likes of John McLaughlin, Jeff Beck and Jack Bruce and delivered a cliché-free drum solo in the last piece. Some of Holdsworth’s solos were very impressive, not going for the usual scales and shapes; my main gripe is that the sounds he was getting from his guitar were at times a bit, well, cheesy and took me back to the 1980s. Although he has played in Soft Machine and Gong there wasn’t much overt ‘rock’ in the music until the encore. The White Rock has to be applauded for putting on shows like this, although they can’t have made any money. Now that the major music venue on the pier has been closed for some time I’ll be interested to see who else plays here. The two previous gigs I’ve been to here were Steeleye Span and The Hollies.