Review - Eric Johnson @ the Rio Theater (1/30/18)

Kevin Keating
Eric Johnson (Photo: Kevin Keating)
GRAMMY award winning guitarist, Eric Johnson, came through the Bay Area last night with a stop at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz to perform his classic album Ah Via Musicom (iTunes) in its entirety. Eric's last visit was almost exactly 3 years ago when he co-headlined a tour with Mike Stern and performed at Slim's -- our review of which can be found here. And instead of Mike Stern this time around, Eric was joined on stage with drumming legend, Tommy Taylor, and on bass, Kyle Brock — both of which also performed on the AVM album. Opener Arielle also joined the band for a few numbers and was incredibly impressive herself! If you missed it, we also had the chance to speak with Eric just before he kicked off this tour which you can find here.
Eric Johnson, Tommy Taylor, and Kyle Brock (Photo: Kevin Keating)
The Rio was absolutely packed with several people left standing at the back of the converted movie theater for the sold out seated show. Arielle transitioned her opening set with a segue introducing the members of EJ’s band at almost exactly 8pm. She remained on stage for their opening number and made periodic reappearances throughout the night to join the band either on piano or additional guitar.
Eric Johnson (Photo: Kevin Keating)
The core group of EJ, Tommy and Kyle warmed up the crowd with an hour-long set that included a Beatles, Zeppelin, and BB King cover before breaking for a short intermission. EJ joked with the crowd that they planned to warm-up with a few tunes, break, play through Ah Via Musicom (iTunes), break again, and then come back to play through Pink Floyd’s The Wall… I could only imagine what that would have sounded like, and although I would have loved to hear that too, the reality was that most in the crowd were there to see his own masterpiece, Ah Via Musicom (iTunes).
Eric Johnson (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Low and behold, after roughly 10-15 minutes, the band made their way back to the stage and slowly built the leading intro of the album which then launched Eric’s most well-known piece, “Cliffs of Dover”. The intro felt like an eternity as Eric’s guitar teased all of us in the audience with long droning notes that coincided with Tommy’s sticks working their way over the cymbals before everything fell away with only Eric’s solo guitar screaming out the first few notes to "Cliffs of Dover". It was an amazing way to launch into the second set, and the full Ah Via Musicom (iTunesalbum.
Eric Johnson (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Although I love the entire album, and it was great to hear it performed front to back, the other songs that stood out for me last night were: "Desert Rose", "Songs for George", and "Forty Mile Town" — all of which showed of the diversity of EJ’s writing, and reinforced that he’s got a voice along with his incredible guitar talent.
Eric Johnson & Tommy Taylor (Photo: Kevin Keating)
The band closed out the show and invited Arielle back on stage to perform the GRAMMY winning “Zap” from his 1986 album Tones (iTunes) as their encore. What a night and we only hope that we don’t have to wait another 3 years for his next visit to the Bay Area!

Be sure to follow us across our social feeds for additional photos and concert announcements. Find us here: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter.

Eric Johnson Setlist The Rio Theatre, Santa Cruz, CA, USA 2018, Ah Via Musicom Anniversary Tour

#buttons=(Ok, Go it!) #days=(20)

Our website uses cookies to enhance your experience. Check Now
Ok, Go it!