A youthful 71, there’s still many a spring in McLaughlin’s step. Wearing Adidas sneakers and a constant smile on his face, the spiritually uplifting guitarist reveled in the adoring crowd and the dazzling array of sounds produced by his backing band—Indian drummer Ranjit Barot, bassist Etienne M’Bappe, and keyboardist/drummer Gary Husband—as he unleashed a bevy of “new tunes, middle aged tunes” and even “golden oldies.”
From the word go, the notes flew out of McLaughlin’s axe as he tore into the rocking and trippy opener “Little Miss Valley.” McLaughlin still plays with what seems like the greatest of ease—he barely looks at the frets and his right arm stays put against the guitar as his fingers work their magic. But even when he wasn’t facing us, you could tell he was beaming.
After two hours and no intermission, McLaughlin ended things the right way by tearing into the Mahavishnu Orchestra classic “You Know You Know” as an encore. Always humble, McLaughlin made sure to thank his audience for their ears from the bottom of his heart. “I hope we meet again,” he proclaimed with sincerity and a smile. God, I hope so too.
– Ira Kantor