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Concert Review: Eric Johnson In Concert At Infinity Hall With Arielle In Norfolk Connecticut

Eric Johnson In Concert At Infinity Hall 
With Arielle 
Norfolk, Connecticut
Ah Via Musicom Tour 2018
March 10, 2018
My first visit to the Infinity Hall in Norfolk CT was a prolific one. I say that because I was about to catch six-string slinger Eric Johnson for the second time. Last night was different, however. This night he would perform his entire Ah Via Musicom album. This was the album that introduced me to his music some 28 years ago, it also happens to be my favorite recording in his substantial catalog.

Infinity Hall is a beautiful venue complete with a bistro, bar, minibar and a wonderful theater upstairs that upon first blush, looks like a church/barn, but very beautiful. All 300 seats are there on one floor (including an upper level with tables for folks with food from the Bistro), and there is not a bad seat in the house. Plus, there is standing room only in the back for overflow. It was a sold-out show, which came as no surprise. 

To start the night off Arielle was going to warm up the crowd. She is an up and
coming artist from Texas that recently released a 5 track EP called Mind Lion. Before she came out onstage a group of four ladies sat next to me. As fate would have it they were all of Arielle's aunts! And quite the cheering section as well. Although, the crowd did take to the young lady quickly, so the cheering section was getting plenty of help from an appreciative audience. One of the lovely ladies sitting next to me informed me that Brian May of Queen had taken her under his wing for a while and now EJ was doing the same thing. So, needless to say, the development of this artist has been in good hands. 

Arielle is a natural talent. It takes a lot of guts to come out on stage all by yourself and she passed with flying colors. Her voice is magnificent and she really knows how to bend those guitar strings. Her 30-minute set covered everything from ballads, blues, and shredding. The shredding example is provided with the song "Take II" (check out the video) with her favorite two-tone guitar that she made. Interesting enough, Brian May made his guitar as well prior to forming Queen.

I can't say enough about Arielle, she is one of the most dynamic and talented young ladies I have seen onstage in quite some time. Her future looks very bright.

After she was done Eric Johnson and his original band segued on to the stage, so there was no break in the music, not yet. Tommy Taylor (drums) and Kyle Brock (bass), who provide a rock-solid foundation for Johnson to lay his licks on, stepped out with EJ. What a night we were in for!

Johnson's first set was very diverse. I think that word properly tells the story of what he brings to the table. His mix includes rock, blues, jazz, and pop. It is always interesting and extremely entertaining. There was so much going on for a trio I find it difficult to put it all into the right context. So, what we witnessed was a walk down memory lane on the first set, which included a pumped up and rockin' version of The Beatles song "The Night Before." The mark of a great artist is the ability to take an iconic tune and make it your own. Not an easy task regardless of what level your talent is on. Eric does it all with ease and grace. He makes everything he does look so easy. His battery mates also are right in sync as well. Taylor is a great drummer (and a good vocalist) and Brock is top notch and his bass playing looks quite effortless as well.

After an incredible first set full of amazing musicianship and improvisation we got a 15-minute break to get something to wet the whistle and go visit Arielle and grab her new CD. She was very gracious while signing everyone's swag.

Now the moment everyone was there for was to see EJ play Ah Via Musicom, which by no coincide for many, was the album people there had discovered him through. I found out by chatting with a few people in attendance that this was the case. There was also one lady sitting next to me after Arielle's Aunts had left, that was not a big EJ fan (her fiancé was) but after a few songs in she was a convert! I love to watch people's reactions to the music and this night was exceptional. 

As Mr. Johnson made his way through his trademark release the crowd was all pumped up, however very respectable of the performers and the rest of the people next to them. It was as close to a perfect evening as it could get, actually.

Some of my favorites of the evening where "Stratagem," off his most recent release Collage, "Black Mountain Side," a Led Zeppelin cover, "Cliffs of Dover," my all-time favorite track, and the encore with Arielle on a very old track titled "Zap."

Eric Johnson is a phenomenal guitar player and a very good vocalist. He definitely ranks in my top 10 guitarists of all time. He has flown under the wire a bit in his career and deserves a lot more recognition than he has received. Last night proved to me that there are people out there that understand what a great talent he is. If you have the opportunity and want to see some guitar wizardry then make sure you catch him on tour this year!

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
March 11, 2018

Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Set 1:
Intro (Arielle introduced the band &… more )
The Night Before (The Beatles cover)
Trail of Tears
Underground (Eric solo on piano)
Black Mountain Side (Led Zeppelin cover) (Eric solo)
Wanderlust (Arielle cover with Arielle)
C.W. (Kyle Brock & Tommy Taylor; without Eric)
Camel's Night Out
Pipeline (The Chantays cover)

Set 2 (Ah Via Musicom):
Ah Via Musicom
Cliffs of Dover
Desert Rose
High Landrons
Steve's Boogie
Nothing Can Keep Me From You
Song for George (Eric solo)
Forty Mile Town
East Wes
Western Flyer

ZAP (With Arielle)


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