7 September 2006
In an idle moment I worked out that after tonight there would be one person I've seen on stage more times than any other musician: Angela Gordon. Not a deliberate plan... it's just happened that way.
So I was wavering over whether to come to this gig. A low-key, barely advertised support slot that nobody else seemed to know anything about? Her first solo show? Would she be able to carry it off? And did I want to go all the way to York for just 30 minutes of music?
I was unsure... for about three seconds.
In all the times I've seen her, she's never been anything less than perfect. There was no reason she would be anything less than perfect tonight.
And how was she?
Just a voice and a piano, not a flute or recorder in sight. I've always loved her voice (somehow I'm always on the right side of the stage to pick out Mostly Autumn's backing vocals...) but never thought of her as a "lead singer". So I remember it being quite a pleasing revelation the first time I heard her carry a lead vocal (that was last summer in Richmond, The Last Climb). And since then she's got better. It's not a hugely powerful voice but it's beautiful and perfect for the songs she chooses.
And the songs: Round and Round, Waiting for the Snow, The Island (brand new, at least to me), one of Heather's Odin Dragonfly songs (I'm sorry, my mind has gone blank), Given Time, Lady Moonlight (an All About Eve song) and... and...
The Man with the Child in his Eyes. Um. What can I say? Wibble. Yes, she did it justice.
And the piano playing? Ok, this is the person currently playing keyboards in the greatest prog-folk-rock band on the planet. Yes, she can play the piano.
(So where's the black nail polish?)
Ok, what else can I say? There's a probably a limit to how many times I should write "perfect" in one review so maybe I'll just stop here.
I didn't even miss the flute. (Ironic when you consider that I always complain when I can't hear it with Mostly Autumn. My earliest memory of Mostly Autumn? The words "this was written by our flute player, Angela Goldthorpe", six years ago.)
"Wavering over whether to come to this gig". Pfft. Who am I kidding?
* * *
Well, that's all I wrote on the way home last night. But I think it would be rude not to mention last night's main act: Bic Runga.I knew nothing about her music. Had never even heard of her before. And from the overwhelmingly young audience (honestly, was I the only person there over the age of 35?) I expected some young, trendy, and trivial pop singer. But it would be rude not to give her a chance, so I stayed...
Actually Bic Runga wasn't bad at all. Not at all what I expected, and there were a lot of things to like in her music. Her jazz-vocal phrasing and song-writing style falls well within my tastes, and under other circumstances I think I would have really enjoyed her set. The problem was... this wasn't other circumstances and she suffered in comparison to Angela. While she was singing... whatever... my mind was still singing Given time is all I can say...
And that proves that my gut instinct to avoid going to a gig when you only want to see the support act is correct. Not because "is it worth it for just six songs?" (because in this case it was) but because you shouldn't follow somebody like Angela Gordon with anybody.... less... I mean... hold on, um...
Ok, when the last notes of a gig finish, I want to be outside, away from the crowd, walking through dark streets, reliving everything I've just seen, and holding on to the feeling that it was the greatest concert I've ever seen. I don't want a half-hour wait in a noisy crowd followed by a set of music that has... no emotional content for me. (Am I making sense?)
So, Bic Runga... good singer, worth listening to, and I'm sorry I couldn't give her music the attention it deserved. But there are good singers... and then there are people who are... people I would travel hundreds of miles for, just to hear six songs. And that's it.