Who is Jose Feliciano? I decided to check his show out the Gov on a whim, and I must admit it wasn’t within my usual taste in music. Consulting the Oracle (the Interwebs) found that he a blind Peurto Rican guitarist, 72 years of age, who has been in show biz for fifty years. His hits were a cover of Light my Fire by the doors, and the Christmas Song, Felice Navidad. Some critics claim he is one of the best guitarists of all times.
I arrived at the Gov early, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. There was a line up already, an older crowd. After the doors opened his back up band played some covers to warm the crowd up until the man himself came on stage. He was unassuming and humble, wearing his trademark dark shades as he played his first set, covering some easy listening favourites from the Bee Gees, the Beach Boys, accompanied by his acoustic guitar with a flamenco edge.
The crowd were enthralled and getting into it, a testament to the enduring loyalty of his fans. Between songs he bantered with the crowd with a bit of self deprecating humour, although I will say that some of the humour tended toward the “non-pc” spectrum, and would probably not be appreciated by a younger crowd. Think your slightly creepy uncle at the barbecue….
He also played some songs in his native spanish, in a South American style, and you could see he still had sharp guitar skills. After a switch to an electric guitar, he played a very stirring rendition of Knocking on Heaven’s Door, adding a few lyrics condemning the war in Syria. He even played a bit of Country and Western with his own take on the genre, One More Drink. Back on the acoustic guitar, he played Sorry, by Tracy Chapman. His backing band, were skilled professionals, as you would expect with a performer of his stature. He gave them due recognition, indulging them in a series of polished guitar and solos in the middle of the set. He left the stage, and returning for an encore round out the set with his hit Que Sera.
Final impressions? Well I was pleasantly surprised, and impressed to see that Mr Feliciano was still rocking out at 72 years of age, drawing big crowds having carved himself a decorated career despite being born blind.
Live Review by Jeremy Watkinson