I must admit i was going to give Sky Arts “Guitar Star” a miss.
I thought it was going to be another so called talent show along the lines of the seemingly endless parade of rubbish that has cheapened and demeaned the music industry over the past decade.
I am happy to say i was wrong.The show was done exceptionally well with a broad range of styles represented and with the contestants treated with respect and sensitivity.
I liked the idea of splitting the heats into Jazz ,Classical,Acoustic and Rock.
This gave the viewing public a chance to hear players in a style that they might not be familiar with.
I doubt that many people will have heard a first class Jazz or Classical player before.
Playing on stage at the “Latitude Festival” was the prize for winning overall and this seemed to cause a dichotomy with the judges thinking as the players stage presence was sometimes seen as more important than ability.
This lead to what i thought was the only poor decision of the show when Alfie Glass won the Rock heat.At thirteen Alfie is a phenomenal talent with terrific stage presence and i am sure he will go on to be big star but i failed to see what more Martin Mickels needed to do to win.He perfectly judged the first round by playing a sensitive chordal piece while everyone else “Shredded” and for the play off for the final he was again superb showing a more flashier side to his playing.I do hope that this fabulous player will gain some recognition of his talent from this exposure.
After further judging three players were left.
Liam McManus is a classical player who has a marvelous touch that reminds me of Julian Bream.That ability to evoke emotion that can change the whole feel of a piece. Not easy to do on a Classical guitar.
Rob Luft is a wonderfully fluid Jazz player who is possessed of a brilliant technique who had been disparaged a few times for lacking stage presence but you try and play that many notes over that many key changes. I doubt I could remember to breath let alone move and finally Gary Lutton an percussive guitarist who went on to win the entire show.
Percussive guitar is very popular at the moment and unless the player has a strong sense of melody it can sound somewhat of a gimmick but in Gary Lutton’s hands it sounded flowing and beautiful and he truly brought something different to the table and for that reason alone he deserved to win.
Whilst lacking a Blues category which would have been good the show a least showcased a broad range of styles which hopefully introduced the viewers to something they had not heard before.
So well done to”Sky Arts” for producing such a great show.
And if it inspired someone to pick up the guitar then job done!