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This article was originally published in issue #30
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If anyone can do a great job of kicking it up a gear from Jack it's Italian maestro Luca Mantovanelli and his Greg Howe influenced composition “Bluex”. He takes everyone by surprise by choosing to not play with the band and a backing track, instead opting to play the piece as a power trio and knocking the tempo up.
It Came! It Conquered! Again! Levi Clay reports on 2014's international Guitar Idol competition.
Another year and Guitar Idol returns with a spectacular live final featuring some of the most exciting young guitar players in the world. An eventful day as always, and after much deliberation, the judges decided on a winner.
Now in its fourth year, the Guitar Idol competition has helped to launch the careers of numerous world class players including Daniele Gottardo, Jack Thammarat and our own Tom Quayle, so it's no surprise that guitar players the world over entered this year's competition for the chance to come to London and change their future.
Held at the London Electric Live show at the prestigious Kensington Olympia, this year's finalists were more diverse than ever before, from classic Satriani-esque instrumental Rock, to modern progressive extended range Metal and even complicated Jazz Fusion numbers - it was an extremely level playing field with no single finalist having any real edge.
UK resident Michael Tillotson was up first, his Petrucci influenced “Catch The Sun” succeeded in capturing the audience and it was a solid start to the show as he blended fluid technique with strong melody and powerful stage presence, his performance landed him three vintage Rotosound pedals along with a year's supply of strings courtesy of our friends at Rotosound.
Next up was Damir Puh of Macedonia with his Steve Lukather-edged composition, “Flathead”. He gelled well with the band and never loses his cool, even when kicking it up to melody factor ten in the chorus and hitting us with a melody that Satriani would be envious of. He walked away with a full TC Electronic mini pedalboard and strings from Rotosound.
Following Damir is UK fusion ace, Jack Gardiner. His song “High Impact” is a step on from his last Guitar Idol performance with funky Rock riffs and slick chord changes which Jack solos over with minimal effort and maximum technique. This is one guitar player no-one really wanted to have to follow and he walked away with a runner up spot, scoring a PRS S2 Custom 24 and strings from Rotosound.
If anyone can do a great job of kicking it up a gear from Jack it's Italian maestro Luca Mantovanelli and his Greg Howe influenced composition “Bluex”. He takes everyone by surprise by choosing to not play with the band and a backing track, instead opting to play the piece as a power trio and knocking the tempo up. It's a bold move and it pays off as he took home a 10th anniversary Musicman John Petrucci.
Next was the Greek born Yiannis Papadopoulos and his brutally melodic composition “Castle Black”, which showcases his wonderful ear for melody along with his flawless command of the instrument, his sweep picking alone is to die for and he walks away with the Paul Gilbert shredder award, winning an Ibanez Fireman from our friends at Headstock.
Following Yiannis is the American fusion ace, Cameron Allen, with his tune “Jacknife on a Hairpin” which he executes in a manner fitting of such a sharp title. His improvising is inspiring and his fluid integration of eight finger tapping is humbling. As a runner up, he walks away with a PRS S2 Custom 24.
The penultimate finalist is Canadian born extreme Metal player Morgan Reid. His composition is heavy and his chops are outrageous, it's virtually impossible to fault his tune even if stage levels cause issues in the performance, it's still enough to wow the judges and he walks away with a Fret King Ventura model.
Last on stage is the Brazilian born jazz fusion guitarist Andre Nieri. His career is already sky rocketing to the top after landing the spot as Virgil Donati's touring guitarist and it's easy to see why. His competitiveness is strong, his playing is phenomenal and he owns the stage. He's not only good to listen to, but mesmerising to watch. It doesn't take much for the judges to agree he's the winner and Andre walks off with a Marshall stack and a PRS Custom 24.
It's safe to say all of these gentlemen have great careers ahead of them and we expect to hear a lot more from Andre in the future as he's got exactly what it takes to be a true icon for the younger generation of player.
Head on over to YouTube to watch performances from each of our finalists!