Last Night: Sir Richard Bishop at Cafe du Nord

Categories: Last Night

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Sir Richard Bishop
Monday, October 27, 2008
Cafe du Nord
By Jennifer Maerz

Better than: Watching your guitar teacher perform covers, scales, and cool tuning maneuvers.

Last night it really felt like fall outside. The city was enshrouded in fog, the air got crisper as the night came on, and people shuffled through dead leaves bundled dark winter jackets. It was a perfect night to tuck into the toasty, red-lit basement of Cafe du Nord, grab a glass of something to warm your insides, and listen to music that moved your brain while your body sat comfy in a chair for the Sir Richard Bishop show.

The eccentric Seattle guitarist took the stage with two guitars beside him and rows of seated fans (including a number of musicians from experimental and metal outfits) giving him their polite attention. Bishop, decked out for the season as well in a knit cap and dark sweater vest (but still wearing his summer shades...at night) jumped into his first number without any introduction I could hear. He just showcased his cascading handiwork, his nimble fingers flying across his electric guitar as one song opened up intricate chambers of melody to become five, six different tunes.

But lest anyone think this dude was a total wank showing off his maestro skills, though, the Sun City Girls member moved from a serious instrumental love song to a couple over the top covers. Starting with Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter," Bishop attempted to loosen the reverent vibe in the room by totally fucking with a couple jukebox staples. It was the only bad part of the show, really, as the guitarist purposely (but also annoyingly) screeched out the lyrics in an attempt to ham things up a bit. By the time he got to the Bee Gee's "Jive Talkin'," though, the joke had run its course -- and luckily Bishop cut that one short to get back to the instrumental meditations he's so skilled at creating.

Looking down at the row of pedals at his feet, Bishop grinned and said, "I love toys" before expertly kicking at them to give his instrument warm reverb, or loop his riffs so they continued while he sipped his pint or played new riffs over the old ones. The music went from classical to Spanish guitar to other rhythms on the international music map, and the songs all blossomed into something subtle yet sublime.

As for the crowd -- we were contemplative. Or maybe, it being Monday and all, we were tired. But we were listening. And a couple times folks even jabbed back when Bishop tossed out one of his genial bits of stage banter (like this bit: "Is everyone really quiet tonight?" he asked at one point, "Or have I completely lost my hearing?")

Given the amount of practice it takes to have lightning strike hands that conjure such beautiful blues and odes to romance, the answer to Bishop's question was a little bit of both.

For further listening: Check out Sir Richard Bishop's songs at Last FM.

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