Date: June 15, 2011
Venue: Le Poisson Rouge
Concert review by Jim Hoey
Marc Ribot and Nels Cline paired up for this guitar duo set on the recent anniversary of Le Poisson Rouge (June 15th). For an hour and a half, over the course of 7 morphing, improvisational sound pieces that ranged from country to rock, through psychedelic noise, to jazz and back, the two legends of guitar traded licks, riffs, tones, dissonance, space – and they shared time, all in front of a sold out crowd that likely included musicians, journalists and New Yorkers on the avant-garde scene who remembered the heyday of Tonic and the old Knitting Factory when shows like this were much more common.
This was the first time the two shared a stage, yet they managed to effortlessly spin these unrehearsed songs, without many words between them. Surrounded by an array of guitars – acoustic, electric, semi-hollow and steel – and a slew of pedals, Cline and Ribot evoked the spirit of the American blues masters, Charlie Christian, Django Rheinhardt, and Arsenio Rodriguez, simultaneously stamping their own voice on each piece. Ribot, almost completely white-haired now, sat in his chair the whole time, narrow glasses slipping down on his nose, while Cline, with his more lanky frame, stood and sat, swapped guitars, and twisted knobs at his effects table (set up like an armchair rest in a home library, complete with a nice red rug underneath). With humor and depth, they, maybe most impressively, managed to always remain close to the nucleus of their counterpart’s sound, never straying into unresolvable or selfish meandering. The crowd sat with concentration throughout and ate it all up, and were even treated to segments that sounded like a soundtrack to a space alien visitation in the Western desert, twangy surf lines twisted to atonal bursts and back.