It’s been 27 years since electric guitar virtuoso Eric Johnson’s platinum selling release ‘Ah Via Musicom’. On it was the Grammy Award winning song ‘Cliffs of Dover’, an instrumental masterpiece that had catapulted Eric to electric guitar playing elite status years before it was actually released on the album.
On February 22, Eric brought his current tribute to ‘Ah Via Musicom’ tour through the Broward Center of the Performing Arts. With him came his original band mates drummer Tommy Taylor and bassist Kyle Brock.
The show started at 8 pm with singer-song writer Arielle opening and warming up the crowd. Her folksy style and sweet voice did well to set the mood. She performed all her songs on stage by herself and went from acoustic guitar to piano to electric guitar in her 30 minute set. As she finished her last song, she introduced the musician we had all been waiting to see, the venerable Eric Johnson.
Eric walked out with his trademark Sunburst Fender Stratocaster and started into what seemed to be an improvised instrumental somewhat similar to ‘Ah Via Musicom’ the instrumental that opens the album of the same name. He seamlessly weaved from there into ‘Stratagem’. When Eric speaks to the crowd in between songs, his soft Texas accent exudes a down to earth guy that never got caught up in his own fame and hoopla. Over the years I have seen Eric perform probably a dozen times. A few songs into his set he did something I had not seen him do before. He sat down at the piano that Arielle had used during her set and played ‘Underground’. I didn’t realize he was a good piano player as well!!! He then switched to acoustic guitar for ‘Black Mountain Side’. On the next tune, ‘Wanderlust’ he brought Arielle back to the stage to perform it with him, as she wrote the song. He played a few more songs and took an intermission after his first set that was just over an hour long, leaving us with the anticipation of his landmark album to be played in its entirety when they returned.
Eric and the guys emerged back on stage following a 15 minute break and proceeded into ‘Ah Via Musicom’ and then into arguably his most popular song ‘Cliffs of Dover’. The rest of the songs were played flawlessly. After the album’s last cut, East Wes, the guys belted out ‘Western Flyer’ as their final song. As they came back for their encore, Eric invited Arielle to join them and they closed the night out with ‘Zap’. I have heard that Eric is writing new material. I hope he gets it recorded and released so that I can see him perform live again soon. Eric Johnson is truly a class act and fantastic musician! - Ray Anton