Review: Pat Metheny Unity Group
Francis Graham-Dixon reckons Pat Metheny's Unity Group will be talked about in years to come as one of his most interesting and adventurous outfits
Of all the extraordinary musical collaborations Pat Metheny has forged over many years, I feel certain that his latest incarnation will be talked about in years to come as one of the most interesting and adventurous. One of just two sadly rare UK dates in the Unity Group’s 2014 tour, this nearly three-hour unbroken set at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith was a triumphant celebration of spellbinding jazz which showcased his enduring importance as a composer of consummate originality and astonishing range and his rich expressiveness as a master instrumentalist. A standing ovation followed by four encores and four more ovations speaks for itself.
Unity Group photographed by Jimmy Katz
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Excellent review. It was a very deep concert. Musically brave and beautiful with an extraordinary level of virtuosity. It was a great feeling to have been there.
Great review. All his concerts are worth going to, I still miss Lyle Mays and I sincerly hope that one day we will them see back together again!
Just a minor naming-convention nit, but I believe the review is for The Pat Metheny Unity *Group*, which is technically different than The Pat Metheny Unity *Band* Here's a summary of the evolution of the Pat Metheny Band/Group naming convention: http://patmethenymusic.com/kin/
Thank you, Sean - nomenclature duly corrected. For those who missed the error, we had referred throughout to the Pat Metheny Unity Band, though in some defence the Jimmy Katz photo used here - with, I believe, the same lineup as at the gig - was titled "Pat Metheny Unity Band".
I went to my first PMG gig 32 years ago at Hammersmith and was there for this concert. I have loved his music ever since. However, while his playing is always excellent, he hasn't written a good piece for a while. I played 'On Day One' to two friends separately and they both thought it was 'First Circle'. The texture of the sound is not right with the sax;without Lyle Mays; and without the singers: 'Are You going with Me' was a shadow of the original with Lyle Mays; 'Have You Heard' was good but nothing like the choral version; and why do a MEDLEY of his songs on the acoustic? The orchestrion was a novel idea, but has run its course. The last thing I really liked was his two albums/tours with Brad Mehldau - too much output Pat - 'What's it all About' was an aberration which did nothing for some lovely pop songs It's Lyle's fault, because I imagine he doesn't want to get together to co-compose and tour so much. After all that, I still love Pat Metheny's music !
Sorry Peter but you're wrong The days of Lyle Mays and the singers are now a distant memory and he has moved on. Although I was not a huge fan of the the first Unity Band album (a quartet without a piano is missing something) Kin is something else and the gig at Hammersmith is probably the best Pat Metheny gig I've ever seen.
It was a great concert and it is great art but I found it also a little uneven. A strange mix of encores and always following a quiet song with bombast is a little predictable. When your all time favourite records are Still Life Talking and Letter from Home it's hard not to lament the passing of time since a PMG tour featuring Lyle and Steve but I also appreciate that things change. For me the The Way Up gig at Hammersmith was far more rewarding than the Unity Band Gig or Orchestrion. I also miss the singing so it was nice to hear a song at this recent gig.