Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Night at the Orchestra

Went with friends to see The Cinematic Orchestra last night at the local Art House South Hill Park which was really amazing - they have a six piece band that focuses around a drum and bass style instrumentation with the infusion of seemingly freeform Jazz. It's the kind of music that draws you in and sets your mind off on thought tangents, wondering upon if's, and but's, and why's.

I've had their music for some time... I've just never listened to it. Too many MP3's I guess :). Anyhoo, they had two opening acts: Eva Abraham whose soulful talent opened the night brilliantly. Just her on guitar and her friend on the biggest double bass in the world. Her songs are predominantly happy, but they're played through a really thougtful set of melodies, seemingly downbeat, and yet they draw you in. Acoustically driven, like a downbeat KT Tunstall, and as beautiful voice as Norah Jones, without being over-produced. I had to buy her CD then and there.

Second opening act was Patrick Watson who fused Coldplay and Radiohead in a way that at times was absolutely amazing, and others, your typical boys-on-stage rock-band music out-of-control, where all the instruments play at once, and someone to the side tweaks all his knobs (yes, the lucky boy has more than one) to create special effects of madness. But for all the weirdness, and the funny way he sang out of the side of his mouth, like a permanent disfigurement, and when he really got into his "oooohs" and "arrrrrrs" he jigged on the spot like he needed the loo, there were moments of absolute brilliance.

His band started with a somewhat funny "Oooooh" that interlaced their voices, in an embarrassing way for the audience (uh-oh cheap-chumps on their very first gig), but it opened out into an amazing tune. A few songs in and the saxophonist from Cinematic Orchestra brought his Clarenet out, bent his right leg around the end and began to blow and suck, whilst the Patrick pulled on the lips of a balloon to make it squeak - I kid you not.

But, outstanding from Patrick was his last song, where he, his guitarist and drummer came out onto the floor, amongst those standing (we had seats at the top of the theatre, which gave us the best view of everything - we didn't want to be on the ground with the riff-raff). The drummer set down a detachable drum and flicked at it with his brushes, the guitarist was unplugged into acoustic mode and Patrick sang through his hands, like a megaphone - silence but for these three at our centre - really beautiful song too. Like Eva, his voice was really distinctive (so, I've had to order his CD too).

And of course the Cinematic Orchestra - 10+ minute tunes of blissful chill. Why is it that the more interesting, diversive artists have to nibble at the edge of the creative industries?

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