Sonny Landreth performs intense, brief set at the Iron Horse

By Jack Nichols

(Kristen Richard/Daily Collegian)
(Kristen Richard/Daily Collegian)

Last Thursday, the Iron Horse Music Hall was alive with the sound of Cajun-influenced slide guitar as Sonny Landreth impressed his audience with an outstanding, guitar-dominated performance. Featuring powerful drumming courtesy of Mike Burch and Dave Ranson’s smooth bass, the trio gave a strong performance that was unfortunately sullied by a short run time and lack of crowd interaction.

As Landreth powered seamlessly from instrumental to instrumental, the crowd responded with equal energy. Eyes were fixated on Landreth, as he earned the spotlight with his impossibly fast guitar technique. Landreth tore up the stage, as he slapped, strummed and slid his way through a collection of songs mainly from his 2012 album, “Elemental Journey.”

Focusing mainly on the instrumental side of his music, Landreth took the crowd by surprise as he strummed the beginning notes of “All About You,” from his 2003 album, “The Road We’re On.” Encouraged by wild cheering and applause from the audience, Landreth infused this classic song with a significant amount of power and energy in his guitar playing and vocals.

Unfortunately, it seemed that almost as soon as the concert started, Landreth had hit the last note of “All About You,” and the show was seemingly over. With a set that lasted roughly an hour, the first part of Landreth’s performance, despite its highs, felt very rushed and not fully representative of the amazingly gifted and diverse musician he is. Only able to focus on certain aspects of his music, Landreth was unable to show the crowd the full musical range he possesses. He stuck mainly to a similar sound throughout the concert, and the biggest change of pace came as the crowd roared for more.

Landreth returned onstage with a glimpse of potentially new material, playing an unnamed song with a similar energy to before. The song shook up the hall as he switched from slide to finger-picking. The song adopted a traditional Landreth Cajun feel reminiscent of the instrumental “Elemental Journey.” It quickly transformed into the highlight of the night, as Landreth’s strong performance on the guitar gave fans hope for a possible upcoming release. As the song came to an end, the crowd lamented Landreth’s departure from the stage, not 90 minutes after his performance began.

The somewhat disappointingly short performance was coupled by a surprising lack of crowd interaction from Landreth. Known for bringing fans on stage during his performances, Landreth addressed the audience very rarely during the show. Instead, he focused on the music, attempting to switch between songs without pause.

Unfortunately, the instrumental songs slowly fused themselves together, with no way to tell where one song started and the other ended. With no clear descriptions to the audience, it was often unclear if Landreth switched songs or was simply expanding upon the song he was already playing. His lack of crowd involvement not only disappointed fans, but it also tended to confuse them at times.

However, Landreth’s overall performance was a success for hardcore fans. Even regular fans of Landreth could appreciate and respect the incredible talent behind his guitar skills and the energy and power he exerted into his music and into the audience.

These fans were likely disappointed by the duration of the show, though, as well as Landreth’s lack of interaction. The guitarist played an incredible set at the Iron Horse, but unfortunately slid his way out before fans could fully appreciate his genius.

Jack Nichols can be reached at [email protected].