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Dean Whitbread 2013

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Written on October 12, 2006, and categorized as Secret and Invisible.
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As promised, reviews from the weekend. Bang On A Can were playing in the Barbican foyer for free – a wonderful normality these days, in London concert halls there is often superb music going on around the rather expensively ticketed main attractions. While the Barbican doesn’t have the light and air of the Queen Elizabeth or the Royal Festival Halls on the South Bank, the cavernous concrete interior actually produces a better sound. Saturday night, prepared for an evening of Steve Reich (pronounce it with a soft “shhhhhhh” at the end or you’ll wake up the Nazis) Remixed, we came a little early and caught the final part of a beautiful show, the live rendition of Eno’s Music For Airports. This seminal composition was originally intended to up the ante for “wallpaper” music of the kind you might hear in public spaces, and was very much part of the beginnings of Ambient as a distinct musical genre. Hearing it played live, I realised quickly that I was listening to something I knew intimately, without (as per guidance) ever having given it my full attention.

Despite it’s slown tempo and the fact that the music was amplified to clear audibility – rather than quietly existing in the environment on the edge of hearing as Eno meant it – this performance was never ponderous or dragging, and this was partly due to the musicians’ diligence, the way they kept the relaxed surface tension in the music, so that it retained its other-worldly spaciousness, and partly because of the understated, Calder-like structure of the composition which survives this kind of translation when so many derivative works do not.

Bang On A Can gave Eno’s ambient piece a wonderful audience engagement. It was like looking at a miniature through a magnifying lens. It cast an instant spell, and I carried this elevated feeling of careful, peaceful happiness into the main hall, anticipating Drumming, DJ Spooky and Coldcut.

More to come.

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One Comment

  1. Indigobusiness
    Posted 12 October, 2006 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Shouldn’t Country Cliff and the Cans weigh-in on this?

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