Thursday, October 16, 2008

Great Music

Mrs The Millbrooker and I have been gallivanting around all sorts of places in recent days so there's been a bit of a dearth of my usual drivelling.

One of the highlights of our few days on the road was Tuesday night's performance in the Purcell Room of the Southbank Centre in far Londinium by Peter Knight and Trevor Watts:

So I'll drivel on about that evening first of all; I'm sure I'll find time to witter about other activities later.

The day began with an early(ish) train from Bath up to the smoke and a rapid trip out to the Jolly Rogers' place in glorious Cheam to dump our bags and snaffle some of Number 1 Jolly's fine fresh pasta for a quick lunch before heading back into town to do some touristy wandering about.

Here's yours truly on whichever bridge it is just outside the Royal Festival Hall, so that'll be the Thames swirling brownly underneath, then:

Mrs The Millbrooker and I pootled along the South Bank at a gentle pace, I took her up the OXO Tower to look at things we can't afford designed by people who look altogether to smart for a poor boy and his Mrs from the Boondocks. Nonetheless, a trip up the OXO Tower is to be recommended for all sorts of reasons which I won't go into on a family blog.

We found ourselves in Tate Modern for a look at the new Turbine Hall installation. I've only read one critique of it which wasn't complimentary, but we both found it a strange and provoking experience; it provides an aural and visual sense of discomfort. The photo doesn't really do it any justice, but just to prove we were there:

Before meeting up again with Number 1 Jolly Roger outside the RFH, we indulged in the world's most eye-wateringly overpriced sandwich within the hallowed portals of the concert hall's foyer. How can anyone charge £4.50 for a piece of bread stuffed with chicken and still keep a straight face? And I work on the railway, taking constant stick for the price of tickets...
So, onwards and upwards to The Purcell Room where we met up with Number 2 Jolly Roger, who had been slaving all day over a hot National Health Service, and thence into the auditorium, seen here L-R and in the front row - yours truly, Number 2 Jolly Roger and Number 1 Jolly Roger:There's no photo of the performance; so I'll just have to try and tell you about it. Peter and Trevor were introduced as "legends"; Peter Hammill (Van der Graaf Generator, and erstwhile neighbour to my sainted mum) once said to me after he'd been described thus that it only means you've been around a long time. Maybe that's true, but Peter and Trevor have been around a long time and are still breaking down musical barriers and experimenting with their own instruments.

The set wasn't quite what I was expecting; I thought it'd be along the lines of the marvellous improvisation on their album "Reunion", but they'd worked out a set list and played around their chosen themes, pushing the melodies into some barely (and perhaps never) charted territories. Their version of Peter's "Sharpe Goes Walkabout" was quite stunning; Shenandoah was a revelation - a very well known tune twisted, bent and put back together into a true treat for the audience.

Peter was well and truly on form and clearly having a whale of a time; Trevor (whom I've not seen perform before) gave an almost unbelievable display of circular breathing technique, making his saxes continually hit outrageous notes seemingly without taking in air at all. Most of all, the pair of them appeared to be exactly what they are: amongst the best at their game and enjoying every moment of it. The chemistry between the two men is a joy to watch (and even better to listen to). Terrific stuff, gentlemen, thank you.

Afterwards we did some hob-nobbing in the foyer where we got to share in a delicious cake made by one of Peter and Deborah's friends, Nikki. Here's Peter and Debs with the yummy confection:

The cake doesn't show up well enough there, so here it is in all its glory. We say "well done and thank you" to Nikki who sadly didn't get to see the whole concert 'coz she wasn't well; hope you're feeling better if you read this, Nikki:

Mrs The Millbrooker and I were introduced to Peter and Debs' friend Dave Hill and his partner Jane and we spent a happy time debating the finer points of white cane usage and actorly pursuits; Dave is an actor (you might have seen him as Bert Atkinson on Eastenders recently; he's also one of The Full Monty boys). Here's the four of us mugging for the camera (thank you Number 1 Jolly Roger for taking the shot):

The whole party was the recipient of an invitation to vacate the premises as the fine staff of the establishment also had homes to go to, so us Millbrookians and the Cheam-dwelling Scousers boarded the tube to Victoria to find our beds for the night.

I'm proud to announce that I found the whole evening so inspiring that I've now taken up ersatz saxophone practice in homage to Mr Watt's inimitable skills; I've nearly got the expression right and am working on the stage presence:

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