Show Review: June 6th Craft Beer Unplugged with Robert Taira Wilson and Elliot Cormack (sponsored by Baird Beer)
The sun beams through the windows of Art Ateliers windowed corner, lighting up the art work of resident alcohol ink artist, ‘Peppermint’ Mika who beams just as brightly as the sun. Outside are the roads and streets of Oshiage, Sumida, teeming with life as people essentially run from A to B and every once in awhile they stop and look up with mouths agape. There’s no mistaking it. This is Skytree Town. With our sponsors, Baird Beer, in tow, we welcome tonight's guests. As people file in, two things are immediately noticeable. One, the simple beauty and charm of Art Atelier itself with its background of wonderfully abstract pieces. Two, the scent of melting cheese and grilled chicken being seared together in to a perfect union of delicious quesadillas, and that’s not even the pre-show.
As our Master-in-Commander, Justin, shows us his love of food, the first act of the evening Elliot Cormack, steps up to the stage to show us his love of music. Elliot’s path as a solo artist is well under way as he gifts us with tune after tune imbued with his delicate vocal talent. At times, his voice soars for joy and hope, at times, it plunges, for ruin and disaster. All the while, his vocal control is absolutely seamless. The man is so good, it’s possible that he may be pitch perfect. As if it weren’t enough to be a gorgeously talented singer, Elliot just so happens to be a very proficient guitarist as well. He makes his guitar quite literally sing as if it were a glorified stringed megaphone. As the beams of sunlight began picking up shadows through the window, Elliot saw out his set with a cover of Jeff Buckley’s ‘Hallelujah’. Such a cover can be seen as old hat these days, having passed the lips of many a mouth but where it was impossible to make something original Elliot made something sweet and tender for all to enjoy.
With the sun almost completely out of sight, a warm sunset orange glow filled the room and tonight’s main attraction, Robert Taira Wilson, strode to the stage. We have seen Robert many times before but tonight Robert’s presence was electrifying. A sense of anticipation as delicious as Justin’s culinary skills lingered on the air as a room full of people watched his every motion with bated breath. Established Taira Wilson classics such as the whimsical ‘Bridge Over Man Made’ and the impassioned ‘Anna’ saw their time in the setting sun, alongside more recent efforts such as ‘Dragonfly’ which hinted delightfully at its oriental origins with Robert’s borrowing inspiration from Japanese history and folk tales swell as folk music. If for a moment you looked into the audience, you would see Robert not only commanded the rooms complete attention but you would the likes of fellow musicians such as the soul musician FiJA and our evening’s opener Elliot Cormack giving those familiar looks of admiration and approval, looks that said “damn, that was f***ing cool”. There were also moments of levity and laughter as Robert made an innocent gaff or two, like for example, forgetting to plug a pedal in.
As to the aforementioned anticipation, the audience was rewarded at the coda of Robert’s performance in the form of his new single, ‘Blackbird’. The anticipation was only turned up as he admitted he didn’t quite know how he was going to end the song. The natural inclination being for every one to imagine what was this monstrously talented artist going to pull off in the final moment. Wilson’s swagger turned to a kind of cool rumination, as the tragedy endowed in ‘Blackbird’ became immediately apparent from the outset. You could almost feel yourself being sucked down some kind of vortex of lamentation with every key change. Just as the torment became too much, the cruelly short ballad reached its climax and the talent monster was unleashed. Whether Robert was fibbing when he said he didn’t know how he was going to end was anyone’s guess, as the sauntering echo and reverb drenched improvisation he laid before us could well have been off the dome. But this is the talent monster, Robert Taira Wilson. He made it look so natural and intentional that it might as well have been a new song in its own right. Just like that, it was over. Robert had gifted us with yet another beautiful memory of a stellar performance in another understatedly cool venue. Til’ next time in Skytree Town.