Paul Gilbert at Reggies in Chicago, IL

Despite the stormy Chicago weather that was brewing outside, fans flocked to Reggies Rock Club to see Paul Gilbert’s instrumental extravaganza.

If anyone looks completely at home and happy on stage, it’s Paul Gilbert. Throughout the show, his huge smile said it all, a smile that was reciprocated by the crowd as they were clearly having as much fun getting to watch and listen to such impressive musicianship.

Gilbert, who is also known for his time with Racer X and Mr Big, is currently touring in support of his latest album, Behold Electric Guitar, which was released on May 17 and is his 15th solo album. Taking to the stage, he got straight down to business as he tore into “Blues for Rabbit” from the new album, which has a mixture of blues, jazz and rock elements throughout. This set the tone for the evening as the setlist pulled from various stages in his career, including his Mr Big and Racer X days.

There may not have been singer on stage with the band, however, Gilbert provided the vocal line on his signature Ibanez for songs like Mr Big’s “Green-Tinted Sixties Mind” as members of the audience sang along with the 90s classic, which is such a catchy tune, it’s impossible not to join in. When you have such a skilled guitarist as Paul Gilbert, it just goes to show you don’t always need a singer in the band to entertain a crowd. The audience was captivated by the exquisite skills this man possesses. While he might make it look completely effortless, you can’t help but appreciate the number of years of practice and devotion to the craft it must have taken to be able to play at this level. It truly is a remarkable thing to witness.

Paul Gilbert is one of the fastest players out there, but it’s not just fast for the sake of it. It’s always melodic and musical and never just a case of “let me show how many notes I can cram into the next 30 seconds.” There’s a beauty in the songs he creates, playing not just a riff but every part of the song. 

This man was born to be on the stage, that is clear to see. Despite the issues he has with his hearing, nothing seems to be slowing him down. He continues to produce and perform music regardless, and thank goodness for that! It never feels like he is showing off, rather that he is having the time of his life and everyone in attendance gets to enjoy it along with him. There were a number of smiles throughout the crowd as he played “Gonna Fly Now” which is better known as the Rocky theme song, which made for a fun addition to the set. 

If you want to see some of the best guitar faces around, get yourself along to this show. They are such an integral part of his show, he’s even named a song on the new album after them (“A Snake Just Bit My Toe”). You won’t be able to help yourself from getting enthralled in the performance.

The tour continues throughout North America until June 30. You can check out upcoming dates here.

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About Kirstine Walton 329 Articles
Kirstine moved from the UK to Chicago in 2011, and has fallen in love with the city and its music scene. She enjoys combining her two biggest passions – music and photography. If there is a band with a guitar playing, chances are she’ll be there…camera in hand. Kirstine went to her first live concert at 7 years old, and hasn’t looked back since!

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