The level of clapping and cheering as guitarists American Loren Barrigar and Tauranga local Mark Mazengarb step out onto the Baycourt X Space stage shows someone is well-known and very well liked.
The foyer crowd was what Auckland invitations call “smart casual”. An early evening audience with an overlay of expectant laughter and a clink of wine glasses. A mixed age range and I recognise people I’ve seen around town. The rush into the Baycourt X Space indicates these people aren’t here for a night out; they’re here to hear this international guitar duo.
The lights dim and as the effusive greeting from the audience fades I get to look at two clean-cut “whitebread” guitar pickin’ men. They’re dressed in what could be street clothes with black shiny shoes. They could be accountants. Their individual jacket styles, in what appears to be black paisley fabric epitomises the overt differences between them as performers. Loren’s a Frank Ifield lookalike with a persistent smile of enjoyment who moves around the stage. There’s something more intense, formal, contained and academic about Mark whose jacket shouts “Working Style” but who wouldn’t look out-of-place fronting a rock band. They’re unexceptional and appear performance unassuming. But they’re guitar-playing dynamite – quick picking and toe tapping and the audience love them.
The first half of the performance passes in a blur of brilliant guitar playing and vocals. It really is a virtuoso performance and it’s acclaimed by the audience with a capital “A”.
They are both in the foyer for intermission surrounded by local fans and CD buyers. I give the chief sales person (Mark Mazengarb’s sister) an ARTbop card.
We settle back in our seats and it’s more of this talented duo – an ebb and flow from one piece to another – modern classics to Elizabethan minstrel and flying fingers. Mark calls down youthful local guitar talent, Josh Durning. Mark and Josh play together. Calling down emergent talent; it’s a wonderful thing for Mark and Loren to do during a concert performance. And they do requests from the intermission. They play Pokarekare ana” and the words float out from the audience. The evening’s performance reaches a crescendo and there’s yelling, whistling, stomping and clapping for an encore.
I’d never heard of them or knew anything about them, but I wanted to come and hear them the minute I heard them play and be interviewed on a New Zealand Concert Programme.
As their promotional card said:
“….their varied repertoire of original and arranged music consists
of stunning guitar instrumentals as well as vocal duets…(their)
live performances feature not only their spectacular technical grasp
of the guitar, but also their outstanding musicality, creative
interaction, and connection with the audience…”
They are a must see when they come back to Tauranga – don’t miss them.