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Legendary Guitar Master

Bob Costa | Monday, January 23, 2006

Hundreds gathered outside Legends, Notre Dame’s campus bar and club, to see Tim Reynolds, the master guitarist and frequent collaborator with jam-rock king Dave Matthews. The line stretched nearly to Notre Dame stadium, leaving many fans to wonder if they’d even have a chance to get inside to watch the free show.

For those who saw the performance, it was undeniably one of the most unconventional and rousing performances Legends has seen this year. The venue, which is usually hosts top up-and-coming alternative acts and popular student bands, was, for one night, home to an amazingly talented and somewhat frantic musician in total control of both his audience and his sound.

Reynolds played for over 110 minutes, with a simple stage set-up and without an opening band. He walked onto stage just after 10 p.m. to the roar of close to 800 students packed into every possible part of the venue. Clad entirely in black, the rocker was engulfed by rowdy students screaming “Timmy!” just like they would be if they were at a huge outdoor concert, even through Reynolds was extremely close to everyone in the audience.

Overall, Reynolds was in good spirits and exuded that dark yet witty personality that initially shocks the audience but eventually gets them laughing right along. Reynolds took some time before the show to stroll around campus, see the Golden Dome, and do an interview with ND-TV.

Although he had spent part of his childhood in the Midwest, this was Reynolds first time to Notre Dame. Some hardcore “Tim” fans were in attendance, but others who came had only heard of him through his work on the multi-platinum 1999 live acoustic album “Live at Luther College” that he had recorded with his longtime friend, Dave Matthews.

A stellar solo artist in his own right with a career spanning over twenty years, Reynolds dabbled in a diverse array of songs for his Legends set. Originals, covers, and jams were all major parts of his performance.

Although in recent years Reynolds has used the electric guitar during his tours, for his Legends show, one of the first his winter 2006 solo tour, he stuck to the same six-string acoustic guitar for the entire show. Many of the tunes off the set-list came from his recently self-released studio album “Parallel Universe.” It was interesting for many in the audience to see how Reynolds broke down some of his more complex studio tracks into live acoustic medleys that meandered up and down the fret board at Reynold’s whim.

The performance began with a solo instrumental on the acoustic where Reynolds utilized his pedals for different effects that gave his sound an immediate multi-layered dynamic. Even though the performance was entirely solo, at times the sonic reverberations from the pedals and Reynolds’ guitar overlays made it sound like there were perhaps three other guitarists on-stage with him.

Two early highlights were “Hug” and “Che,” as well as an acoustic experiment on “Mercury Direct,” the first song off the second disc “Invisible Pagan Underdogs” on “Parallel Universe.” Some other examples of Reynolds reworking his older tunes came mid-set, when he started to jam into “It’s Dead,” a track off his 1997 studio album “Sanctuary.”

The Legends crowd also loved it when Reynolds played Beatles covers during the middle of his show. From a high-energy rendition of “Come Together” to a phenomenal interpretation of “Here Comes the Sun,” it was evident that Reynolds was a fan of the Fab Four.

Reynolds then hit on another classic cover, this time Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” which he warped into a menacing acoustic groove that pushed and prodded the normal chords while fans tried to keep up and sing-a-long.

Calls from the audience for Reynolds to play “Stream,” the popular song he wrote and performed on “Live at Luther College” with Matthews, led Reynolds to remark “It’s coming, first the foreplay, then the penetration,” much to the delight of the already buzzed crowd.

The most hilarious moment came when Reynolds began to say the most absurd things that were highly comical as well. Before playing James Brown’s “Cold Sweat” and the politically-charged “Indoctrinate,” based off the lectures of Noam Chomsky, Reynolds told the audience “My name is Barbara Streisand and I like to smoke weed.”

The first encore featured a raucous sing-a-long of The Beatles’ famous song “All You Need Is Love,” where Reynolds aptly filled the role of George Harrison while the Notre Dame students took on the challenge of imitating Lennon and McCartney for the vocals. That cover segued back and forth with the punctuated riffs “Kundalini Bonfire,” an underappreciated gem off Reynolds’ 1996 release “Gossip of the Neurons.” Reynolds interspersed his own acoustic noodling with another classic next, this time Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks.”

The evening came to an end when Reynolds, without any notice, promptly put down his instrument, gave a peace-sign, and disappeared behind the black curtain.