Aussie guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel makes a welcome return to the North East of England as part of his current six-date UK run.

With temperatures in the 20’s today, a trip to the coast doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Subsequently, a packed out crowd arrives at The Playhouse in Whitley Bay for Tommy Emmanuel’s first appearance in this quaint seaside town.

Armed with a trio of Maton acoustic guitars and a relatively modest onstage guitar rig that includes no effects board and just a tuning pedal, Emmanuel walks the Tyneside faithful through his extensive songbook.

The beauty of a Tommy Emmanuel show is that there is no stringent setlist to adhere to, but rather his unique ability to read the audience ultimately guides the shape and direction of the concert.

Tommy Emmanuel recently released a new album titled Accomplice One via The Players Club/Mascot Label Group. For this rather ambitious project the Grammy-nominated guitarist, singer/songwriter and composer rounded up a whole raft of his esteemed friends and peers for a sixteen song collaborative album.

Despite this, only a small smattering of tracks from the record feature in the set tonight. This includes the light-hearted, comedy-tinged number “You Don’t Want to Get You One of Those” along with the beautiful slice of Americana “Deep River Blues”. On the album, these tracks feature local lad Mark Knopfler and Jason Isbell respectively, but tonight Tommy performs these astounding compositions entirely solo.

Immediately from the off, it’s easy to see why Emmanuel’s mentor, the legendary Chet Atkins held him in such high esteem, declaring him to be one of only five musicians to be regarded as a ‘Certified Guitar Player (CGP)’.

Emmanuel’s exquisite playing style seamlessly and fluidly brings together both lead and rhythm parts, whilst simultaneously keeping the beat against the side of his road-worn Maton. The clearly defined and visible battle scars embellished on his acoustic guitar’s body are a testament to this.

Tommy Emmanuel may well be a guitar genius but he is also an incredibly gifted one-man band. Before an astonishing rendition of “Blue Moon,” he demonstrates this sentiment wholeheartedly before joking ‘think of the money I’m saving folks’, much to the audience’s amusement.

Tracks like the beautiful “Never Too Late”, his sublime harmonic accentuated performance of Eva Cassidy’s “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and his Berlin wall inspired new track “Ava Waits” really stand out in the set. With its slow and emotive playing and it’s heartfelt context the latter of which would be perfectly suited to a movie soundtrack. Song after song is greeted with rapturous applause from the Whitley Bay crowd.

Emmanuel literally makes his acoustic guitar sing like a bird during his unique take on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” before upping the pace and really rocking out during a crowd-pleasing medley featuring both The Beatle’s “Day Tripper” and “Lady Madonna”.

An atmospheric reverb fuelled performance of “Blood Brother” leaves the Tyneside crowd wondering how one man and an acoustic guitar can produce such a huge thunderous sound.

Throughout the course of the show, it feels as though the guitar becomes an extension of Emmanuel’s very being. His Exquisite showmanship, charisma, witty banter, genre-defying repertoire, lighting fast fingerpicking skills and rhythmic ability results in Tommy Emmanuel delivering a show like no other.

It’s fair to say that on the strength of tonight’s tour de force of musicianship Tommy Emmanuel is arguably one of the greatest and most gifted acoustic guitarists of our time.

Tommy Emmanuel
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Event Date: 19-May-2018

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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