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Posted by Mr. Ventilator on January 29, 2000 at 14:05:06:
I'll admit I was a little uncertain what to expect from Mick Taylor after all these years. I hadn't seen him since a gig with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers back in '80 or '81. After that, he just seemed to drop off the planet. Recently, I'd checked out some of his live CD's (Coasting Home and Too Hot for Snakes - both very good), which seemed to show that he could still play. But still I wondered if he could really equal the playing he did with the Stones in the early '70's.
I caught a glimpse of Taylor on his way up to the stage. He seemed old..not bloated, as some have said, but not exactly lean either. He looked pale and a little puffy. He walked with a small limp, and his shoulders seemed hunched. He still had the sandy blond mane, though, just like he did in '69. He's the Ronald Reagan of rock - his hair never ages.
So as Mick and his band took the stage and started into the first of several tracks off his new CD, I wondered: After a decades-long vanishing act, would Mick Taylor still play as well as he did in '72?
It took only moments to know the answer. And the answer was "no". He didn't play as well as he did then - he played better. Way better.
Taylor and his band launched into a white-hot 2-hour set of some of the most mind-blowing blues guitar I've ever heard. Most of the songs I didn't recognize - several were off his new CD - but the theme was the same throughout the set. The band laid down a tight groove, which Taylor used as a base to launch into long blistering solos.
I have heard Mick Taylor's leads on Stones records and boots for years, and dreamed of what it would have been like to hear him and Keith play Love in Vain or Gimme Shelter in '72. But I was unprepared for the sheer force and virutuosity Taylor demonstrated last night. There were flashes of Santana, Page, and even Hendrix. His playing was technically way beyond what he was doing with the Stones in the early '70-'s.
Listening to Taylor wail his way through "You Gotta Move", I realised how silly it was of me to think that he could or would ever return to the Stones. He doesn't need them. He's now playing the music he wants to play. And the Stones don't need an improvisational guitar genius on the circus-like gigs they now play. I think part of the reason he left was because he was bored with the music the Stones were making, and with the constrained role of the lead guitar in most of the Stones repertiore. Hearing him play Friday, I couldn't imagine him strumming along with "Brown Sugar" or "It's only Rock'n'Roll". Those songs are too confining for Taylor's style - he needs a big canvas to paint his music. His band gave him that canvas last night, and for two hours he showed he's a master.
Highlights of the show were "You Gotta Move", "Red House", and the final encore "Can't You Hear Me Knocking?". But there were no weak numbers, and each song provided moments of sheer guitar joy. He played, I think, 10 or 11 song in a show that lasted just under two hours. That's about 10 minutes a song, and of that 10, 8 were Mick Taylor wailing away.
For fans of the '69-'73 era Stones, these Mick Taylor shows are must-hears. Mick is on his way to re-establishing himself as one of the great blues guitarists of our era. Listening to him Friday night, I no longer felt it was such a tragedy that he left the Stones. Instead I thought of how lucky I was to be able to hear this extraordinary musician play mindbending guitar in a small venue - and for sixteen bucks.
Mick Taylor is back, folks..and it's the real deal.