By Christopher Hoard
Of all places, the Whittier Center Theater strikes me as an unlikely spot where one of rock’s most talented multi-instrumentalists would emerge for his first west coast gig in 30 years. But on Tuesday (June 22) Eddie Jobson — who emerged in the mid-’70s as young English wunderkind playing wild electric violin solos alongside Frank Zappa, and later with the short-lived supergroup U.K. — stepped forward onto the stage of a drab and sleepy community venue with glass electric violin in hand against a backdrop of eerie lighting, smoke machines and the manic cheers of the faithful.
His bow summoned elaborate and sinewy soundscapes and soaring arpeggios that built to a furious climax of string pyrotechnics never before heard in Whittier — or anywhere else.
The majority of fans gathered were old enough to remember U.K.s 1978 self-titled debut, long revered by rock musicians of all stripes as an engineering and musical masterwork. Propelled by the then just disbanded King Crimson’s rhythm section of Bill Bruford and John Wetton, U.K. paired Jobson’s virtuosity and blossoming compositional talent with unusual jazz harmonies courtesy of guitarist Allan Holdsworth. Likewise with ELP’s and King Crimson’s earlier debuts, nothing before in rock had sounded remotely like it.