To get one of these guys at a gig is amazing, to get both of them is a real treat. In the “first of many” gigs featuring the guitar virtuoso and the triple threat artist, Michael Fix and Darren Coggan share their own music in solo spots and the music of their mutual music heroes.
Although they have known each other for many years, they hadn’t worked together in this way before. This was somewhat of a trial run and they called us guinea pigs. I was just chuffed to see and hear two of my favourites on the same bill, whatever was to ensue would be a bonus. They devised this meeting at Kiama Blues Festival earlier in the year, realising that they had a lot of common heroes.
I am hesitant to give too much away. I don’t want to spoil their jokes, stories, one liners or running sheet, but suffice to say that it was full of surprises and not just for us fans. They started with an obvious track, given the subtitle of the gig. The David Bowie song is decidedly more important after his passing.
Given Michael and Darren’s links with country music, there was only one reference to a country artist, and a notable one, for sure. The music was as diverse as the careers of both of these guys.
I have seen a few guitars smashed in my time but I have never seen one almost explode. Michael powered up his guitar with Pipeline, and I swear if it wasn’t going to explode, it was going to take off into the Marrickville sky.
Darren showcased some Cat Stevens’ songs, which you would expect him too, given the fact that he has been performing Peace Train, The Cat Stevens’ Story for a while now. Darren’s albums have mainly been country based, and he featured a few tracks from these as well as also including the Golden Guitar winning track from the War Stories album, Too Dark for the Lighthorse (too light for the clan). Darren’s War Stories show is one of my favourite stage shows of all time. If you ever get a chance to see it, you need to grab the chance.
Michael’s flying fingers and rhythmic beats on his guitar – which seems to serve as an apparatus for a one man band – providing the most amazing sounds and effects.
Not only are their heroes diverse, but they don’t always pick the songs that you think that they will pick. Obviously, some of the choices are to showcase their guitars, rather than songs that are primarily known for their lyrics. Some of the songs chosen would be a mighty challenge for anybody who has ever picked up a guitar. Michael is one of the best guitarists that I have ever heard and I have been lucky enough to have heard him on a number of occasions. Darren’s game lifted as a guitarist, probably from playing with Michael.
I would love to mention some more of the works that the guys tackled but I don’t want to spoil the set for anybody who goes or wreck the surprise from Michael and Darren’s angle. The guys tend to balance each other out. Michael is obviously stronger on the strings, Darren’s vocal range is incredible. It was evident, and it will be more evident in time that their skill sets will become even stronger by working together.
Both artists are accomplished musicians in their own right with their own works. To be connected by mutual heroes and to be able to perform some very difficult numbers together is quite an achievement. The fact that this was their first time together was actually a plus, not a minus. It appeared raw, natural and off the cuff. It will be interesting to see and hear how this show develops. It was an eclectic mix of fine music and it was delivered heartily from two of our very best.