Ordinarily being beaten to the punch on a piece of commentary would probably render me apathetic enough to let it go through to the keeper, however this one’s worth throwing in just because it crinkles my brain so much.
At the beginning of the month some likeminded bold musical adventurers & I set forth to Barbican Hall to spend an evening in the presence of the amazing Herbie Hancock & associates. In this case, Herbie’s associates were trumpet guru Terence Blanchard, expert harmonica wrangler Gregoire Maret, bass machine James Genus, drummer Kendrick Scott, and experimental guitar noodler Lionel Loueke. Jazz always takes me away to another place, because after establishing how the song goes the players then hop & skip playfully around in the music – turning it into their own thing and occasionally giving you glimpses of it as reassurance that you’re still listening to the same song. When you get six jazz dudes of this calibre together and slap a “jazz festival” banner on top of the gig the results can tend, however, towards the brain-hurty end of the scale. Certainly much of the material hovered outside of the comfort zone area – Loueke’s epic piece “Seventeens” being an obvious candidate, in a 17 beat time signature… hard enough to follow at the best of times, but while you’ve got jazz heavies freestyling in & around it as well – the description I gave Paul was that “listening to this is a bit like having your brain gently chewed on”. It wasn’t all hard work of course – Cantaloupe Island was effortless & sexy, like a romantic poolside cuddle with your honey in the sun. And as an encore Hancock cranked up the keytar for the most porno bassline ever, Chameleon.
By sheer stark contrast, the gig that signifcantly fewer of my musical aficionado mates attended with me the other Monday night was by Mike Patton’s “hobby” band, Fantômas. Having watched this band do their thing, and subsequently listened to their albums on iTunes, I’m still at an absolute loss to describe what in the hell you’d call it. Wikipedia suggests “avant garde metal”, and there was undeniably a metal element to it… The band are all undoubtedly talented musicians, and I could tell that WHATEVER it was they were doing, they were really good at it. I suspect I wasn’t supposed to be giggling quite as much as I was however. Several of the earnest looking black-shirted gathering seemed to shift uncomfortably at Brett & my mirth surrounding the proceedings. Whereas Herbie & co. chewed gently on your brain, this felt more like someone had sawn out a section of one’s skull, and was probing around between your brain hemispheres using a Peruvian Torch Cactus. Bewildering stuff.
The 3rd leg of this tripod of musical wonderment arrived a couple of weeks later, in the form of a concert by The Tiger Lillies. Seriously, I don’t know why I do this sort of thing to my ears. The Tiger Lillies play some dark & twisted tunes, which sound like nursery rhymes from the deepest recesses of a mind that is a hybrid of Tim Burton and Klaus Kinski. Instrumentation here was a combination of piano, bass, accordian, drums, and theremin – accompanied by Martyn Jacques’ unmistakable horrific falsetto/demonic grind, and a drugstore back alley Julian Clary-esque cabaret singer. The concert was built around the story of Sinderella, the crack whore. Sort of an anti-panto; definitely no happy ending. Certainly not typical yuletide fare – Jacques’ catstrato car-alarm like voice shouting “Why do I enjoy to watch a rapist thrust? Occasionally I get a glimpse that I am really f*cked f*cked f*cked F*CKED F*CKED F*CKED F*CKED F*CKED F*CKED F*CKED F*CKED!”, scowling, and glaring odiously out of one leering eye. If it seemed a little disjointed, Jacques’ response was that they only rehearsed it for 3 days…
In summary, I think I should be banned from buying the tickets in future.