I’m no connoisseur of fine guitar skills and I couldn’t tell you what a humbuca is but I do respect the craftsmanship of each beauty, I admire the talent and dexterity of the musicians and I marvel at the sound each beast can make, when it was carved from a mere block of Rosewood or Black Ash.
When the Fender Roadshow hit Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory, I wasn’t sure what to think, but I thought it would be an educational experience, if any. I wasn’t sure if it was a gig, an advertisement for Fender or a concert. In fact, I can safely say, it was a hybrid experience of all three. First and foremost, it was a gig promoting the Fender products, a showcase, if you will, of the best of the best and the most recent Fender releases and collections.
Although it’s purpose was in advertising, the men had so much knowledge, passion and humour, it was a pleasure to watch. Guest star Greg Koch was supported by James Ryan with Marcel Yammouni on bass and Haydn Meggitt on drums. The atmosphere was very intimate, personal and informal, and I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The night definitely exceeded my hopes and expectations. Oxford Art Factory did not disappoint as a venue.
On a side note, I’m not really a hard rock fan, I try to stay away from Pink Floyd and INXS, and I quickly realised that the majority of Fender products were at the disposal of the aforementioned bands. However, it is a testament to the Roadshow that while they demonstrated the value of these guitars in their rock element with rock band homages, I loved them, because I was told the history behind the guitars, the background of each era and their technologies. They showcased period tunes using authentic remakes from the Fender American Vintage Series. In this series, they have 12 guitars made with the utmost historical accuracy, from pick-ups, to the wood etc.
As Koch declared, each guitar sounds “delicious” in its own way and the secret to playing guitar like a rock god, is to play to the instrument, to flaunt the values and virtues of the beast itself. This imperative is especially seen when flirting with the American Vintage Series because back then the instruments weren’t made for comfort, they were made to dally with the magic of sound. The Fender Deluxe Series and Fender Custom Shop, however, are two collections which illustrate a traditional ‘look’ while employing modern technologies and ergonomics for sound perfection and player comfort. The point of these classic series is to reimagine an old hero, to cherry-pick their lineage, to create mutants akin to guitar gods, or so they say. They had dozens on guitars onstage from each collection and therefore remakes of guitars from each era, with some tweaks here and there which they explained. Essentially, they played the guitars, displayed the potential of each and then compared the sounds and genres of each both with and without amplifiers and sound enhancers. I was thoroughly impressed.
When they played, there was a blur of fingers and I honestly didn’t want to blink and miss the extraordinary finger-picking on both electric and acoustic from the main players, Koch and Ryan. Later, I decided to give up trying to comprehend their mastery, so I just sat back and let the guitar excellence wash over me, with Yammouni on Fender 6 Bass-guitar hybrid vibrating my very soul. These were musicians in their own rights yet had banded together for the third night in the Fender Roadshow for this common cause. At the end of the night, the audience was allowed to feel, revel and faint at the alter of these Fender gods and this interactive dimension to the night really topped it off.