Archive for the ‘Classical’ Category

My Top 5 for 2009

December 31st, 2009

After 42 shows in 50 weeks, heres my top 5:

#1 - Bobby McFerrin @ Royal Festival Hall
for his playfulness, outstanding performance, and inspirational interaction with the audience.

#2 - Max Richter @ Union Chapel
for his beautiful melancholic music, and perfectionin performance.

#3 - Alex Lloyd @ The Troubadour
for the heartfelt simplicity of his songwriting and performance.

#4 - Andrew Bird @ Union Chapel
for playfully weaving beautiful melodies with little else but himself.

#5 - Fever Ray @ The Forum
for their eye poppingly slick production and dark ambience.

In particular, Bobby and Andrew and a particular Buckley-ish flavour to their shows, with their energy on stage, and musical playfulness. A special mention goes out to Noah and the Whale @ Crisis Hidden Gig, Tori Amos @ The Savoy, Bob Brozman @ The Half Moon, and Massive Attack @ Brixton Academy.


Max Richter - Union Chapel, 23 October, 2009

November 1st, 2009

Max Richter

Much like the beautiful gamalan band Sekar Enggal that opened, you could just close your eyes and float away to the serene music. Max Richter was supported by a string quintet - 2 violins, a voila and 2 cellos - and ensemble and sound put Clint Mansells night at the Union Chapel to shame. Which is ironic, I suppose, considering he got a standing ovation, while this night the Chapel was (pleasantly) not even sold out.

The very first piece, from Memory House, encapsulated the whole night for me - layers upon layers of sublime melody, starting in the cello’s, the in each violin, and before you notice it, you hear the subtle viola singing out in reply. The last track before interval began quietly, but built up until a gutteral bassline thundered under the music, like an organ playing the low pipes with all the stops pulled out. It was startling, and quite effective, making me want to hear Max in a Church with an organ that could do him justice on that piece. The crescendo in the finale, too, was also executed with such empathy and finesse that it made the hairs on the back of you neck stand up. It was not suprising after a night of silent reverence from the audience that he received a standing ovation. I suspect this show will end up in my Top 5 shows attended in London… only time will tell!

The night was part of the Marginalised series, supporting the Margins Project for homeless people… its a good cause, so go check it out if your so inclined.

heres the first track sample:


Clint Mansell - Union Chapel, 20 July 2009

August 3rd, 2009

photo by wanterlustg -

After a suprise introduction by friends including none other than Darren Aronofsky praising his music, you’d expect a relative air of confidence about Clint Mansell, but as he even as he took to the stage, he was quietly and unassuming.
Clint as a musician has had quite a meandering path to where he is now, some of which, if you didnt previously know about, you might find abit suprising. In particular the contrast between his last band, the extroverted Pop Will Eat Itself and the relatively introverted compositions he makes now. Of course, those of us who are familiar with both sides of the coin can draw similarity between the two - I often imagine hearing the PWEI guitars powering away in tandum with his current works.

The contrast of work was joy to hear - the serene beauty of the work in The Fountain to the heaving brutality of Requiem For A Dream. Watching the lead guitarist hammering the bridge of his electric guitar with his fist, or teasing out textures with an ebow was simply awe inspiring.

I’m fortunate to have seen Clint live, as I believe this was only the 2nd time ever they’ve performed in the current format. I’m not sure how many more of these he’s doing, but if your into him, you’d do well to go along and check him out!

heres an sample:


photo by wanterlustg -