Reviews transcribed by
former Mahavishnu Orchestra II Member
This goes in the for what it's worth category.
I came across these reviews from some MO-II concerts in 1975 that I thought
I'd like to share with you.
Dazzling display of musical skill
British rock guitarist John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, at the
Town Hall, last night only.
Nobody could fault the technical gymnastics of John McLaughlin and his
Blistering guitar solos? McLaughlin could melt paint off a wall at 50 yards.
His speed and control is staggering. No wonder a musician as critical as
Miles Davis rates him as his favourite guitar player.
Violin? Frenchman Jean-Luc Ponty, another man with roots in jazz, fields the
volleys of notes McLaughlin fires, and sends them thundering back.
Drumming? Michael Walden, only 21, with the loose limbed build of a
welterweight boxer, plays with such intensity it's almost frightening, Watch
him closely. There must be times when he cheats and uses four hands.
Bass? Chubby-cheeked Ralphe Armstrong is 17, which helps to explain his
dexterity, but not the ability to stray on wild flights of free-form music,
which would not normally be expected from a bass.
Out the four of them on stage with six other skilled musicians for almost
three hours and the result, as it was last night , is a dazzling
demonstrations of skills.
The only doubt is if the music they play, almost totally without melody, and
really just a peg for virtuoso playing, has a great deal beyond the surface.
McLaughlin, heavily involved in Eastern religion, feels there is a spiritual
quality to his music.
A listener might be more inclined to see McLaughlin's work, as compared to,
say, the soulful Carlos Santana, as the difference between gymnastics and
ballet. The skill is everything in one, the beauty everything in the other.
But the band believes in what its doing, and what it does is done
The Brisbane Festival Hall audience last night heard a band of highly
creative music virtuosos.
The Mahavishnu Orchestra took a receptive audience on a musical
excursion guided by the soaring electric violin of Jean-Luc Ponty, and the
amazing speed and precision of guitarist John McLaughlin.
Each attempted to out-do the other in technical brilliance, but they
usually ended playing in perfect counterpoint.
McLaughlin was challenged at times for the role of musical director
by none other than his drummer.
Though hampered on occasions by a faltering acoustic balance, the orchestra
did not release the audience from its spell until it was all over.
A JAZZ-ROCK EXPERIENCE
JOHN McLAUGHLIN and his Mahavishnu Orchestra last night gave an amazing
performance of jazz-rock-innovative music before a receptive audience at
Combining with Jean-Luc Ponty, on electric and baritone violins,
McLaughlin showed the speed and technique that prompted claims that he is
one of the best and fastest guitarists.
Changing effortlessly from the 12 to the six-string neck of his
double-necked guitar, he reproduced the sound that is peculiar in modern
Ponty blended well with McLaughlin's guitar. The two dueled with
impeccable precision then drifted into individual breaks.
During his many solo spots, Ponty displayed superb mastery over his
instruments, timing echo and feedback perfectly.
The rhythm section comprised young and energetic Michael Walden
(drums) and Ralphe Armstrong, 17, on fretless bass guitar.
With long and short solos, they showed the timing and rhythm that
gave the music its strong base, and much of its power.
Pretty Gayle Moran combined her talents on keyboard, with beautiful
and clear vocals like "Smile of the Beyond" which also showed the talents of
Bob Knapp on trumpet.
McLaughlin and the orchestra will appear at Festival Hall again on