A slight conflict for my birthday evening celebrations. Did I go along with my gut feeling and go to Candleriggs to experience Stockhausen’s Kontakte and watch someone battering seven shades of shite out of a piano OR cave in and take Shields to see Simple Minds and Ultravox at the Hydro, the latter being her choice? The thought of spending the rest of my life looking at myself in the shaving mirror every morning and knowing that I’d celebrated my sixtieth birthday at some Eighties Cheesefest quickly swung the decision. I pulled rank and The Fruitmarket got our hard earned readies.
A couple of hundred of us, I guess, (we had tickets 179 & 180), sat down cabaret style in the rather cavernous Old Fruitmarket. The stage had a piano to the left and a well stocked percussion station to the right.
To set the mood to begin with, we got ‘Klavierstuck’ which is a solo piano piece. As a child I was often left alone in a room with only a piano to keep me company. For amusement I would occasionally depress the pedals and hit as many keys at the bottom and top of the keyboard as possible, in order to see how much noise I could make and sustain and listen to it decay away to almost (but never quite) silence. The results were not dissimilar to this evening’s Klavierstuck except the young me, unlike Nicolas Hodges, never enjoyed having someone sitting at my side turning the pages of the score. For much of the time he was playing the keyboard with his forearms.
In a different room I could, and would, literally pull out all the stops on a harmonium but that’s another story for another day!!!
The fact that I knew my gig buddy was not enjoying this one little bit, probably skewed my perception tonight. The shortest of intervals allowed us to take stock as the percussion was laid out taking up the majority of the stage.
Percussionist Colin Currie, then joined and the two of them set up a dialogue, or should that be trialogue, with sound engineer Sean Williams.
The results in ‘wraparound, three sixty, quadrophonic or whatever you want to call it sound’ of Kontakte was absolutely fascinating and engaging in all the ways the Klavierstuck piece wasn’t. The sound appeared to be coming through some fairly basic klaxon style PA horns but I didn’t actually check that when the lights went up, such was the haste with which Shields wanted to leave.
Very impressive however. That clicky clacky noise that the plants make in Day of The Triffids was very much in evidence and had me glancing nervously over my should a few times to ensure I wasn’t being stalked by some sentient shrub. The piano was as manic as before but with the electronics and percussion involved It suddenly all made perfect sense. I shouldn’t really be as surprised as I was, as I listen to this piece quite often
Imagine Morton Subotnick arm wrestling with Pierre Henry and the resulting noises being manipulated by a pre-menstrual Delia Derbyshire and you’re getting close.
We repaired to Blackfriars to liaise with a limping Rhursach before heading off to Guy’s for a wonderful birthday meal!