When John McLaughlin announced he was retiring from touring in America, it was enough to send fans scrambling for tickets, but once it was announced he, co-headliner Jimmy Herring and their combined bands would perform all the main Mahavishnu Orchestra pieces for the first extensive time since the 1970s, demand shot into the stratosphere. Both of the historic shows at the Vic Theatre were of course sold out, and those fortunate enough to be inside were treated to three distinct sets throughout more than three hours.
“The Dance Of Maya” bounded with explosive rhythms and rumbles, then “Be Happy” gave a flavorful and festive sendoff to a man and band who were so ahead of their time, audiences and fellow musicians will keep unraveling the intrigue long after John McLaughlin retires from the road.
Up first was the skilled axe-slinger Herring and his seasoned backers The Invisible Whip, who framed about an hour around both meaty jams and moments of meandering with a stylistic tone that fell somewhere between the time he’s logged with Aquarium Rescue Unit, The Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic and The Dead (to name but a few of his many acts). After a short break, English guitar god McLaughlin and his world-class 4th Dimension ensemble built additional steam with mostly newer material that continued to display his innovative techniques and technical precision, even at 75.
However, it was the main event featuring all of the mutually admiring musicians revisiting the genre-defying Mahavishnu Orchestra that could’ve easily justified the price of admission all by itself. “Meeting Of The Spirits,” which also serves as the tour’s title, was a natural place to start, unloading with mounds of muscle and a complex fusion of jazz and progressive rock with bits of classical and world beats.
McLaughlin and Herring used “Trilogy” as one of the many chances to trade snarling solos, “A Lotus On Irish Streams” turned towards the troupe’s more mystical explorations and “Birds Of Fire” blazed with a particular forcefulness. “The Dance Of Maya” bounded with explosive rhythms and rumbles, then “Be Happy” gave a flavorful and festive sendoff to a man and band who were so ahead of their time, audiences and fellow musicians will keep unraveling the intrigue long after he retires from the road.
For a list of upcoming Jam Productions shows, visit JamUSA.com.
Upcoming concert highlights at the Vic Theatre include John McLaughlin & Jimmy Herring (Nov. 18); Squeeze (Nov. 25); Iliza Shlesinger (Dec. 1); Damien Escobar (Dec. 2); Rhett & Link (Dec. 9) ; “The Irreplaceables” Tour (Dec. 17); Felipe Esparza (Jan. 12) and Big Head Todd & The Monsters (Jan. 19-20); For additional details, visit VicTheatre.com.