Guitarist Diaries: Pink @ NIA, Birmingham, 30/10/2009

No, no, no, don’t click away! America’s hottest, coolest and most accessible pop startlet has, in her touring band, one of the best rock guitarists you’re unlikely to have ever heard of: Justin Derrico.

"Cool? Moi?"

Look, I don’t care, I think Pink’s great. Her albums are mostly very fun and the music is infinitely better than the usual pop mush our kids are spoon-fed and, if you’d taken the chance to catch one of the spectacular shows on her recent Funhouse tour, you’d have been blown away.

OK, so the show is an eye-popping spectacle that sears the old retinas in the tried and trusted fashion but, as we stood on the arena floor of Brum’s NIA, surrounded by what can only be described as an (ahem) eclectic gaggle of fellow Pinkies, bored boyfriends and full-on ‘lifestyle choicers’, we realised that most of the music is built around and hung on Derrico’s enormous Bogner-driven tone.

He’s as comfortable behind his Gibson Les Paul as he is strumming a Maton acoustic and it’s always funny to watch as his boss makes every attempt to sexually assault him – really! – during one of his many ultra-fast yet super-accurate solos. He neither drops a note nor a smile as she mischievously runs her hand up his thigh for what must be the umpteenth time on this long tour.

As well as the hits, there’s a real surprise in the set: a proper and full version of Bohemian Rhapsody...not even Queen could manage that. OK, so the band boasts something like seven singers plus Lady Alecia Beth on Mercury duties, and you don’t get into a set-up like this without being an outstanding musician, but the harmonies were perfect throughout...and yes, they did the whole Galileo operatic bit too. And Justin? He nailed that iconic solo, on a Gibson Explorer no less, and the whole version was stunning.

This was our bus stop...we got a taxi...

As we stagger with blurred eyes and ringing ears onto the carnage that is Broad Street on a Friday night, we’re happy to report that rock guitar is cool. Yep, so we already knew that, but we should all take solace in the fact that 8,000 Pinkies cheered like AC/DC fans at every note Justin Derrico played. Get in!

Some further stadium shows in Blighty have been announced for 2010 and, assuming Justin is still in the ranks, we can’t recommend you taking a punt and going to see the show enough. Dates are below.

Saturday 12th June - Reebok Stadium, Bolton
Wednesday 23rd June - Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Thursday 24th June - Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Saturday 26th June - Hampden Park, Glasgow
Sunday 27th June - Alton Towers, Staffordshire
Tuesday 29th June - Portman Road, Ipswich

Oh...OK then...

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