Wednesday, 29 July 2009

As he wrote the damn thing, he can mangle it if he wants - Michael Nyman Band - Hamer hall

Ok .. Hamer hall 28th July 2009 8pm:
When I grow up, I want to be in the Michael Nyman band. After a rather crabbed and peevish interview in The Age, which Nyman refers to later in the evening in well meant jest, I wasn't sure if I could engage with this rather cantakerous figure, but then again, he is an artiste!! But from those first humping brass notes and doggedly bowed strings we knew we were in for something special. Who cares if the balance was a little off. The bass player was particularly miffed and was gesticulating wildly off stage between songs - more Michael, less band!!
What better way to start than with "Chasing Sheep is best left to Shepheards" from The Darughtsman's Contract. Boy do those musicians work hard. It was like watching a human steam engine pumping and heaving to make it up to the top of the hill, or in less salubrious terms, like watching indigestion live on stage, intestinal muscles contracting and expanding as the tempo and volume gradually crescendoed to its climax. This is more rock n roll than sunday morning classical radio.
I'd love to know the internal dynamics of the band. I bet he is a hard taskmaster, but I can imagine egos writ large, so I'm sure there are frequent bar-room brawls. I bet there's fisticuffs!! You know these musos and their drink, the red faces aren't simply the result of blowing brass and woodwind .. oh and that piece in the camisole and leggings on 2nd violin .. uh-huh honey ... awright!! I'm sure you're angling for a raise of some description!! (I can feel M giving me the side-eye, but he's not even here)
Anyhoo, it was an exhilirating evening, and we were treated to a special performance of the piece that Deb Conway commissioned Nyman to do for the Qld Arts Festival and her friend William Barton. Barton performed on virtuoso didgeridoo, electric guitar and vocals. Some of the sounds Barton produced on his didg were a revelation, but oh his voice ... shivers up spine and tears in eyes ... are u kidding me here??
My only dissapointment was that there was no programme and mistakes in the little info sheet they gave out (memorial and Time Lapse are NOT from Man on A Wire, ta muchly!!). I would have loved to have heard Memorial, but the little suite from Wonderland and Revision of the Don more than made up for this - I have to track these down.
Oh and Mr Nyman, you wrote the music for the Piano, so if you want to mangle it, you have every right, but what happened to the 5/4s at the end of The Heart Asks Pleasure First. I wanted to know how you played it!
I think to make up for the Age article, Michael kindly sat out in the foyer signing CDs after the gig:


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