SES­SION shenani­gans

The stu­dio guitarist’s guide to hap­pi­ness and per­sonal ful­fil­ment, as re­lated to us by ses­sion leg­end Mitch Dal­ton. This month: Barcelona 4 Gui­tars.

Guitar Techniques - - INTRO - For more on our hero Mitch Dal­ton and his Stu­dio Kings please go to: www.mitch­dal­ton.co.uk

Barcelona 4 Gui­tars? No. That’s not a La Liga re­sult with the away team’s score omit­ted to spare the an­guish of the vis­it­ing sup­port. It’s just that, oc­ca­sion­ally the end­less con­veyor belt of top­class stu­dio dates, the roy­alty stream that cas­cades over me like a one-armed ban­dit with epilepsy, the Moët, the girls... even­tu­ally it palls. Hon­est. A break beck­ons.

And so it came to pass that, with the aid of a di­ary, a cal­cu­la­tor and a cou­ple of Neu­ro­fen, I squeezed a few days respite from the daily grind and fled to Cat­alo­nia’s cap­i­tal.

Af­ter mak­ing al­lowance for the un­mit­i­gated Hell of Lu­ton Air­port and the tem­po­rary loss of my gui­tar at Barcelona Ter­mi­nal 1, I ar­rived at Casa Posho to be treated like mi­nor roy­alty. And there it was, on page uno of the In­ter­net guide, a con­cert at The Palau de la Mu­sica Cata­lana that very evening fea­tur­ing the epony­mous quar­tet.

I abluted, beered and tapas-ed, and found my­self at the mag­nif­i­cent con­cert hall in an­tic­i­pa­tion of my nine o’clock ren­dezvous with Span­ish shred­ding. Two el­e­gantly at­tired per­sons of each gen­der duly ap­peared, 10 fash­ion­able min­utes late, and eased them­selves into the pro­gramme by warm­ing up with a four part re-or­ches­tra­tion of Car­men, for Pe­dro’s sake!

Th­ese guys are vir­tu­osi, each demon­strat­ing their own sub­tly in­di­vid­ual ap­proach, al­ways in the ser­vice of the greater mu­si­cal good. They then pro­ceeded to take Bach’s Bran­den­burg Con­certo for a walk, gave Tchaikovsky’s Waltz Of The Flow­ers a se­ri­ous see­ing-to, and per­formed in­va­sive surgery on Al­b­eniz, Boc­cherini, Verdi and oth­ers. There was a spotlit solo for all four pro­tag­o­nists, each daz­zling in tone and tech­nique.

And then there was the com­edy! If mere mu­si­cal ge­nius were not suf­fi­cient, at var­i­ous points in the evening the recital was in­ter­rupted by ev­ery­one’s favourite oaf of a roadie, a sneer­ing in­com­pe­tent who pro­ceeded to mis­place man­u­script, clat­ter mu­sic stands and ap­par­ently drop in­stru­ments off­stage, all the while show­ing con­tempt for quar­tet and au­di­ence alike. Then there was the sim­u­lated ego-fu­elled at­tempt by band mem­bers to outdo each other. Six and then eight foot lutes were pro­duced, fol­lowed by some Hen­drix in­spired Strat­ting out, then a par­o­dic burst of oper­atic arias, ‘singing waiter’ style, even­tu­ally reach­ing a con­clu­sion as one of the young ladies fired both mu­si­cal bar­rels with a deaf­en­ing ren­di­tion of The Toc­cata and Fugue on or­gan.

There fol­lowed a metic­u­lously drilled se­quence in which one group mem­ber ap­peared to use the re­main­ing trio as a hu­man iTunes li­brary, em­ploy­ing his phone to change mu­sic, fast for­ward and back, pause, stop and re­peat. The spoof ended with the in­evitable phone glitch in which the band were re­duced to re­peat­ing a mu­si­cal frag­ment ad nau­seam.The recital ended with a stand­ing ova­tion and an en­core of Ravel’s Bolero.

Our fear­less fret­ters be­gan the ar­range­ment as a duo, one gui­tar sim­u­lat­ing the (in)fa­mous snare drum groove. This was not deemed to be suf­fi­ciently en­ter­tain­ing for so­phis­ti­cated con­cert-go­ers and the two re­main­ing mem­bers quickly en­tered the fray, each pair play­ing one of the two gui­tars. It merely re­mained for the quar­tet to reach the fi­nale on one in­stru­ment only, like a multi-oc­tave mad oc­to­pus.

Re­mark­able. Stun­ning. Unique. I loved it. Let’s hope tonight’s jazz quar­tet at the ho­tel comes close!

Were there but one string fewer on my cho­sen in­stru­ment, I could jus­ti­fi­ably de­scribe this va­ca­tion as a bass­man’s hol­i­day. But there isn’t. So I can’t. Pity though...

Mitch finds him­self daz­zled by vir­tu­os­ity in beau­ti­ful Barcelona

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