Alex Peters Captivates

A typical Friday night sees the popular Alexis Bistro on Jalan Telawi 3 in Bangsar packed with diners, which is why we thought it best to call ahead and book a table. True enough, they were almost fully booked.

“Just to inform you, we have a performance on that night for a private function. I hope you don’t mind,” said their manager Mr. Shahril. 

You can only imagine my surprise and delight as my friends and I walked into an unannounced, one night only performance by pub stalwart, Alex Peters. The show kicked-off with a minimalist rendition of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song which seemed to take on the form of an opening prayer before the show. [Read: But my hand was made strong by the hand of the Almighty. We forward in this generation triumphantly.]

Despite the minimalist approach an acoustic guitar solo ensued. No backing tracks. Just the backdrop of an echo-delay effect.

In the past, Peters has been touted as the musician’s musician but in Alexis, he proved to be much more than that. The audience were not only privy to his performance but a musical analysis, behind-the-scenes & breakdown of each song.

From the musical forensics of Bruno Mars' diggings into old classic formulas and emerging with the modern veneer of Just the Way You Are to Radiohead's lawsuit from The Hollies for the plagiarized Creep, the night bustled with the connection of dots and trivia. All this and to say nothing of his skills and knack for manipulating his axe any which way he pleased.

Peters’ choice of artillery that night were a black Stratocaster, a PRS hollow body and an aluminum Ibanez – no doubt for the tonal variation spread out over the palette of genres offered up that night.

PRS McCarty Hollowbody for the jazzier tones and thick slide guitar in "Love Will Keep Us Alive".

Regulars of the pub circuit will know that no show is complete without Peters’ signature tour-de-force, Earth Wind and Fire’s System of Survival, complete with the emulation of a DJ vinyl scratch on the strings of his axe on overdrive. The distinctive EWF funk groove segued seamlessly into Josh Groban’s hymnal, You Raise Me Up -- something only Peters has the gumption to pull off. 

we make it better @ The Guitar Hospital

We at The Guitar Hospital were commissioned to improve the look of Alex Peters' Ibanez J-CUSTOM guitar for one of his private shows. After months of working on the neck replacement, electronic fittings and routing for the Gallium Nitride LEDs and Fernandes Sustainer we finally did it. We had a personal invite that night and witnessed how cool the end result was. Here's a clip from the show focusing on the LED lights & sustainer effect. Please share guys :) :) :) yours, Ray C. Akira

Posted by The Guitar Hospital on Sunday, January 24, 2016

It would have been easy enough for him to dump his machines and take on an entire night ‘acoustic ‘n unplugged’ to silence his protesters but to raise the bar in an electric dream seems to have been the driving force; leaving you no choice but to acknowledge the difference between whipping out an acoustic guitar and winging it in a basement and pulling out an axe laden with the cosmetics of pressure-activated LEDs across the fretboard and performing a precisely-rehearsed musical piece.

Every note and nuance sprang out of Peters’ Bose L1 Compact speakers with superb clarity. Each vertical, modular unit delivered wide, even sound coverage throughout the room. Even the ones who were seated at the extreme sides of the joint received the same tonally balanced sound as the ones in the front of the room.

Aluminium Ibanez J-Custom equipped with Fernandes Sustainer and LED lights for fretboard markers.

While it remains unclear whether another show is in the offing, one thing’s for sure; Peters remains one of the few musicians instead of remaining stagnant in a far distant, will, like objects in your rear view mirror, appear closer than they really are; far more relevant and current than one would dare to admit. 

Years ago, my late father, Errol de Cruz, got wind of his performance at the Lone Pine Hotel in Penang and it is no wonder he was sad to learn he had missed it. 

This article was published on February 11, 2016 in the Malay Mail.