Eric Johnson used the first set to display several genres, started off playing acoustic guitar and his articulate first notes were met with cheers and admiration for his uber-talent. Head down, as always, Johnson stroked and strummed as amazing sounds and rich, full tones filled the entire House of Blues Dallas. Roscoe Beck, accompanying on upright bass added another layer of fullness that kept everyone in the venue enthralled.
Johnson rarely sings, but he voiced Paul Simon's "April, Come She Will." He added a wave of notes to the mini solos while his vocals stayed true to one of the great songwriters in history. Throughout the entire set, it seemed as if every note was an extension of his soul and the energy flowed out in waves to his loyal fans. They sent energy right back to him as he quickly formed a musical bond with the roomful of music lovers.
The rest of the band joined him on stage and EJ played several different genres. From a pick-em-up, put-em-down funky cowboy overtone and a sly be-bop to "Chester," a dedication to Chet Atkins and his finger-picking style, and "Raphael" with its 60s San Francisco vibe, the audience hung on every note. Johnson even dove headfirst into country with "The Ballad Of Elrod And Girleen" as the fans bobbed and weaved in their seats. EJ finished the acoustic set with Led Zeppelin's "Black Mountain Side" to everyone's delight.
Johnson took a short break, then came out for his electric set with a different mindset and energy. The fretting was impeccable and he covered songs from some of his favorite artists. Jimi Hendrix's "Drifting" and John Coltrane's infusion-jazz "Impressions" book-ended his hit song, "Trademark."
The guitar impresario elicited any emotion he wanted throughout the evening, but none more so than his dedication to Jeff Beck, "Freeway Jam." Complicated chord changes pulsated his solos, especially for the Grammy Award winning song "Cliffs Of Dover." The crowd jumped and cameras came out in full force before the well-earned standing ovation.
The encore of "S.R.V.," another tribute to the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan featuring heavy strings and throbbing tones was as good as it gets. Finishing with the hard driving "Zap" completed the long jam session and the night.
It was a night of masterful riffs from the mind of a guitar virtuoso. Every fan felt privileged to be part of an evening of immaculate music. This is a show that true guitar lovers will want while Johnson is on tour.
Special thanks to House of Blues Dallas for their assistance.