November 10, 2021
The Majestic Theatre
Review by Dave Gray
Photos by Rene Rivera
Tommy Emmanuel Brings Vaudeville Back To The Majestic
With a massive thunderstorm brewing outside, a firestorm of finger-picking was working inside Dallas’ Majestic Theatre this evening. Australia’s Tommy Emmanuel picked a solid set of cool tunes to enlighten and inspire the city slickers and old-timers alike.
One hundred years ago, The Majestic Theatre opened its doors in 1921 as a Vaudeville theatre. Surely some magicians must have played here, and tonight, another one did. Opening the set with a non-stop rendition of old standards and new creations, he performed for about 15 minutes non-stop out of the gate. “Nine Pound Hammer” and “Cannonball Rag” were two of the most incredible covers of the fine finger work of Merle Travis, and should be seen live to be believed. See the lightning-fast fretwork on the six strings, as he works the bass and lead parts of these classics at the same time. Hear the timely tap of the right hand on the acoustic body to simulate a drum beat, and witness the occasional point at the left hand on the neck, which then makes a magical note appear suddenly. Quite simply, fascinating, a guitar player’s guitar player.
The set also included offerings from the CD “Tommysongs”, because “Well, he wrote ‘em”. “Fuel” and “Timberland” were standouts, with cool video moving visuals in the back, as Tommy laid down the original inspirations from the front. The Majestic Theatre has possibly the best sound system in the metroplex and the lighting was on display as well. It’s amazing how one musician, playing one instrument, can make that place so full of sound. Blending green and yellow lights at times on one song, then transitioning into deep blues or radiant reds on others, created a cool, memorable experience. Tommy also conducted some of his greatest PBS and YouTube hits. A Beatles medley, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, and “Classical Gas”, really highlighted the night, as most of the audience know these songs very well and were shaking their heads in disbelief and/or wonderment.
The night wouldn’t be complete without a nod to Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed. Tommy invited friend and opening act Richard Smith back to the stage to play a few classics from his late great heroes. “Twitchy” and “Serenade to Summertime” showcased each other’s solo talents as finger-pickers and really put a nice cap on the evening. And when it was over, I left the theater, and it wasn’t storming anymore. Perhaps it was all just an illusion, the lightning was obviously inside.