It has been a very musical few days for me as my Birthday present was to see Arcade Fire at Earl's Court last Friday & yesterday for mine & Richard's 10 year anniversary we took in a CBSO concert at Symphony Hall Birmingham. Two venues are very different in both size & age with Arcade Fire being the last concert being hosted at the event because it is now going to become luxury apartments. I somehow think that the Economy of Earl's Court suffer because of it.
So on with the critique. Arcade Fire were supported by Owen Pallett on the day I attended, which I was very looking forward to as I do think his music is genius normally using only a violin, keyboard & various pedals & pick ups, I was surprised to see he was joined on stage by a guitar player & a percussionist,which although were good felt like it was a step away from what I had seen of him. Unfortunately I thought the venue was either to large or too empty at the time or both to get a good appreciation of his work due to the reverb as played tracks which I have seen recorded in smaller venues that sounded awesome, but at this concert seemed to be slightly disjointed by the echo. This leads me on to one of my pet peeves why do so many people only turn up for the main act, I have been at some awesome concerts with some pretty amazing support acts which I have come to follow greatly & would have missed if I hadn't turned up to see them. Arcade Fire were on top form,provideding me with one of the best concerts I've ever been to, there was a sense of art & carnival about the whole concert & even though it was their Reflektor Tour they played a lot of their older tunes too, to make it fully immersive for the crowd who had been with the band from their first album which in my opinion was their best, in fact I would say my favourite to least favourite album goes entirely by the order in which they released them. They involved the crowd,but not only that but also made it that the people who were seated also had additional things to watch rather than just the main stage, with dancers in drag, in skeleton suits & one in a mirror ball suit, along with the lighting effects, ticker tape & glitter cannons it made for a very entertaining evening. Iwentin knowing someof what to expect but this exceeded expectations.
The CBSO concert was a change of pace starting with Ravel's Mother Goose Suite which was beautifully played & I very much enjoyed. The Gerald Barry Piano Concerto was indeed a stark contrast to the Ravel it was discordant it did have some moments of genius where the piece held it together & you could see what he was trying to do but soon as you moved into that space he careened of it leaving you feeling a little disappointed. the Francisco Coll No seré yo quien diga nada première was almost just a cacophony of noise with a couple of bursts of genius but it was a case of they were fleeting, I don't mind modern music but to create noise with what seems little purpose is frustrating & to me smacks a little of that will do rather displaying a finely crafted piece which makes sense. I found myself applauding the talents of the musicians & conductor who had the rather thankless task of not only playing such discordance but also had to suffer rehearsing them & feeling that the composers really could have done better. The final piece was Thomas Ades another contemporary composer although had played with sound & its structure took you on a journey it had moments where yes it does challenge structure but does it effectively so you can follow it & fully appreciate it & understand where it was going & what it was trying to say, it stirred up the emotions, was assertive in its tone & totally blows you away pushing the boundaries to a sensible level so it is enjoyable & understandable. You get a feeling that he is a well rounded composer willing to be contemporary but knowing when it is going far enough to not lose the audience.