LIVE: Tim Reynolds @ the Massry Center, 3/30/11

Tim Reynolds
Tim Reynolds

I walked away from Dave Matthews Band concerts about 15 years go – the shows themselves were great, but the “fans” that came with Matthews’ skyrocketing popularity ruined the vibe for me. As such, I’ve missed seeing Matthews’ friend/collaborator Tim Reynolds play lead guitar for DMB. Fortunately for me (and the full house at Massry Center’s Picotte Recital Hall), Reynolds brought his solo show to the Capital Region last week.

“I’m not used to playing in all this light,” Tim Reynolds admitted as he tuned up. “I’m used to playing in darkness, so I’m a little bit intimidated…”

Reynolds was experiencing the all-white “traditional concert hall” lighting that is one of the space’s few Achilles heels. As luck would have it, program director Salvatore Prizio chose this night to address the problem: Four light bars washed the back wall of the stage with purple illumination, while two portable stage-light sets flanked Reynolds’ center-stage spot. Just as Reynolds was opining about the abundance of brightness, the house lights came down for the first time in my experience. “There ya go,” Reynolds exclaimed, giving the house a thumbs-up before he launched into “Pyramid in Space,” revving his volume pedal like a hot-rodder at a street race.

March gave us two other amazing guitarists in Leo Kottke and Al Di Meola, and Reynolds is a wild amalgam of both those players. Reynolds shares Di Meola’s love of effects boxes, using them to turn himself into a duet, a quartet or an orchestra, depending on what a particular piece called for. “To the Next” started with a little slide guitar and ended as a rolling horror-movie loop, while his last encore “Apocalypse with Fries” started with a single thump on his guitar and ended as a cataclysmic opera that was only missing flash pots and smoke bombs.

Like Kottke, Reynolds is primarily a finger-picker who plays both 6- and 12-string guitar; Reynolds also possesses one of the world’s less-memorable singing voices, an asthmatic wheeze which he demonstrated on pieces ranging from the blues-soaked political rant “The Truth” and the Native American-inspired “Ancestors” to the unabashed sex song “Smells So Sweet” and the stripped-out take on Lennon & McCartney’s “All You Need is Love.”

Mind you, Reynolds has Matthews to do the singing at his day job, so he doesn’t have to be the next Freddie Mercury. And, like Kottke, the voice is easily forgivable when paired with the blinding ability to transform an acoustic guitar into a hypnotic device. “Pyramid” was a blinding mix of blues, bluegrass, folk and classical sounds that stayed marvelously intimate even as Reynolds’ fingers were going into warp. “Hands Full” (“Dedicated to the INSTITUTION of the Presidency…”) was some really nasty country music; “Decline in Reason” had a meditative mid-section that flowed like a river; and “Che” had a tantalizing flamenco feel Reynolds returned to several times during the two hours-plus show.

With the exception of a few jokes and a plug for The Point restaurant (“They have the most beautiful waitress serving water. They have the Water Goddess there…”), Reynolds kept his between-songs raps very brief, and there was the sense he was missing Matthews’ patented nouveau-hippie stand-up comic routine. Then again, when Reynolds was talking, he wasn’t playing, and as far as anyone was concerned, he could have kept bringing the beauty for the rest of the night… or until the lights burned out, whichever came first.

Tim Reynolds

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Pyramid in Space
Decline in Reason
The Truth
Matter Most
Smells So Sweet
Wish My Heart Could Make Up My Mind
Give It A Go
To The Next
(Backwards Space)
Hands Full
Vantage Point
Kundalini Experiment
All You Need is Love (the Beatles)
Apocalypse with Fries

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