RANGOON — For Burmese guitar fans, it was the night they got to see guitarists they admire playing their hearts out, as if they were possessed by spirits.
For the guitar players, it was the moment they too had been waiting for—a chance to show off their skills, and to mesmerize the crowd with their signature speed, precision and outlandish techniques.
That was exactly what happened when 23 Burmese guitarists, established names as well as rising stars, shared the stage on Sunday at an open-air Burmese-style guitar festival—the “Biggest Guitar Instrumental Show 2014” at Myoma Parade Ground. During the country’s first ever guitar instrumental gig, the audience of several hundred was left in amazement, speechless.
“It was the moment I have been waiting 25 years for,” said guitarist Aung Aung of the band Warriors, after earning applause from the audience with his unusual guitar playing technique—playing with an electric drill—seemingly inspired by Paul Gilbert of US West Coast rock group Mr Big.
“Ask any guitarist what is their dream. You will be told ‘to play instrumental in front of a large audience,’” said the guitarist.
During the eight-hour long event, the audience witnessed a vast array of guitarists from long-respected six-string virtuosos to younger players, giving the gathered guitar enthusiasts various musical flavors, ranging from modern rock to jazz and blues.
Probably the highlight of the event was when one of the country’s most famous guitarists, Chit San Maung from Iron Cross, took to the stage after midnight, generating cheers from the audience.
As soon as he hit the stage, he was a whirlwind of movement, attacking his guitar angrily. At one point, he threw the guitar up in the air, caught it again and resumed playing. Stirring performances of his new songs were topped off with his song “Wasteland” from his first instrumental album, “Six-String Magic.”
The gig came to an end with two jamming sessions of the guitarists playing a tribute to the country’s biggest river “Irrawaddy” and Deep Purple’s trademark song “Smoke on the Water.”
Before hitting the stage again for a final jamming session, Chit San Maung told The Irrawaddy the night had been a success.
“We guitarists mostly work with vocalists, playing backing music and solos for them. Tonight, there is no vocal, guitar only,” he said.
“I have to say the first guitar instrumental show here is a success. I hope it will herald more gigs like it in future,” the guitarist added.