Touring guitarist Gladius performed at both the Pleasanton and La Cygne libraries over the past week. (Photos by Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)
PLEASANTON – Pleasanton Library Director Wendy Morlan was worried. Stepping outside the normal summer program activity for the library, she had hired a guitarist named Gladius to play at the Pleasanton Community Center on Monday evening, July 17.
To add to her concern, Gladius had performed at the La Cygne Library just the Friday before.
She was worried that it was a mistake, that no one would come even though the concert was free. However, as it became time for the performance to begin, the room began to fill with concert-goers.
The guitarist’s promotional material touted his classical training under a protégé of the famed classical guitarist Andrés Segovia melded with stylings of Flamenco fusion and licks reminiscent of rocker Eddie Van Halen. Not the usual fare for an area where the old and young tend to gravitate to rock or country.
And Gladius didn’t disappoint. The musician from Georgia drew nearly 40 area residents who showed up to watch him play.
A veteran showman, his every move seemed to be calculated to add drama to his performance. Playing a half-size acoustic-electric guitar made of carbon fiber, Gladius (real name Andrew Connors) used a looper pedal to create back rhythms, special effects pedals to bend the sound, and slapped parts of the guitar’s body and neck to punctuate his playing with percussion.
The audience at Monday's performance at the Pleasanton Community Center was entertained by Gladius' showmanship and prowess on the guitar.
A small electric fan in front of his microphone stand blew his shoulder-length hair, which along with dramatic movement of his hands up and down the fretboard of the guitar, added to the sense of fluid motion as he played. Even pausing to take a drink from a water bottle had dramatic significance as if it was part of the performance.
He started his set with one of his compositions, “Moonrise,” demonstrated classical influence and gave the audience a taste of what the performance had in store. His next piece, an arrangement of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black,” had a decidedly metal rock take on the classic.
“Race in the Clouds,” another of his original melodies, used strains reminiscent of “Hotel California” before dissolving into electric fusion rock. He threw in an arrangement heavy on distortion from the classical composer Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”
Later in the performance, Gladius moved about through the audience like a violinist at a posh restaurant that moves from table to table, eager to engage his audience, eager to perform.