Gig Review: The Piano Guys, Glasgow Armadillo (June 11th 2019)

Some of you may look at this and go “What’s he reviewing this for? It’s not metal!” and you’d be right. It’s not. But I’m the editor-in-chief and own this site so I can write what I like. Also, The Piano Guys aren’t metal… but they rock.

For those who’ve not heard of them, they’re a group of fathers from Utah who play piano. And cello. And other instruments. But the core is two gents on piano and cello, and they were the “guys” on stage for the vast majority of tonight’s show in Glasgow, joined for two tracks by one other. They did make it very clear that they don’t tour a lot as they have young families at home, so it could well be that Guy Number Four has opted to stay back in the US.

However, the show we did get from the two (and a guest appearance) guys was simply superb. I’d picked up the tickets as it was something different and which I thought my eldest daughter would enjoy as we don’t spend anywhere near enough time together. We both left the show with huge grins on our faces, money well spent and then some.

The performance was a mixture of classical and pop/rock music (a couple of original compositions and some covers) interspersed with genuinely witty conversation and anecdotes. The banter at times was like watching the presenters dig at each other on Top Gear (the good version, not the rubbish they have on now), and you could tell that the performers were loving every moment as much as the crowd.

We were treated to several special moments, such as one song which ended with a string ensemble. Obviously a backing track… but no. Covered by bright lights which blinded the audience for a few seconds, the musicians behind the strings were snuck on stage – all young members of The Renfrewshire Strings who did themselves proud. We had an amazing version of “I Want You Bach” (ugh), a blend of Bach riffs and a well known song by The Jackson 5. For this song, out two hosts accompanied themselves! Using a pre-recorded video where they played harpsichord and traditional bass, the live performers added piano and electric cello / talk box. Truly an original sound!

The absolute kicker, though, were the last couple of tracks. The final number involved the third member appearing and all three of them playing piano together – one traditionally, the other two plucking the strings directly or vibrating them with the hairs from his cello bow! Ever seen a piano lid used as a percussion instrument? I have. The highlight was the song before, though. Paying tribute to the host nation they raised the roof with their version of “Fight Song / Amazing Grace”. The video (shown during the performance) was filmed some years ago on their last visit to the country and features the beautiful Eilean Donan Castle which should be on your list of places to see before you die.

Now I don’t “identify” as Scottish despite my ancestry. I also will publicly state that I hate bagpipes. But when the song reached a crescendo with a pipe band marching on stage, every hair on my body stood completely to attention. I was quite literally tingling. It was, frankly, one hell of a moment. In fact, I can barely recall more than a handful of gig memories which had a similar effect on me.

They have one date in the UK left before the shop back Stateside, and if this review reaches you early enough for you to grab a ticket for the London performance then it was worth my time writing it. Failing that… keep an eye out for their return.

The Piano Guys: official | facebook | twitter | youtube

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