Words: Leah Solomon
My first show of the National Arts Festival 2014 was seeing Gary Thomas in a very intimate space with around 40 or so people, and it is definitely one of my favourites so far. I had never seen this guitarist before so I went into that gig like an excited child at a Sweets From Heaven.
I was there on my own which actually turned out to be the best decision I could have made. I grabbed my beer, had a quick cigarette before the show started and went and found my seat. As Thomas swooped right into the swing of things I realised how much concentration I wasted when at a gig with a friend, always leaning over to each other saying things like “holy shit this amazing” and “how does he even move his fingers so fast?” This time I said those things to myself (in my head of course) and let myself get enveloped by his sounds.
Gary Thomas is a very unique performer. He is awkward as all hell but in the most inviting way, making you laugh at his jokes that were served with extra cheese. His presence was comforting in a way, kind of like this was a spontaneous gig he had organised for his closest friends. And I really did feel cool cracking the nod to be there. Even though the conversation he had with the crowd was minimal, it was definitely enough. His awkward, slightly endearing and warm persona carried him and his music on a strong wave.
And his music is like a breath of fresh air. Many guitarists dabble with tapping and manipulating their sounds but it takes more than skill to execute it just right. It takes feeling and confidence, which Thomas definitely had an abundance of both. His song choice flowed incredibly well and they complimented each other perfectly. His picking, strumming, tapping and manipulating was incredible; so fast and intricate and jaw-dropping.
If you love awkward jokes and fantastic music, I suggest that you see Gary Thomas before this Festival comes to a close.