Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hail! Herbie

Herbie Hancock took the stage at about 8.10, and looked about 20 years younger than he actually is. God, I hope I look that good if I reach that age. Seaton and I had me up in the aptly named World's End pub down the road at 6-ish. He was early, I was late, a first for both of us, I think. When we got there they were playing Guns N Roses as if the '90s had never happened, and Strictly Come Dancing was on the big screen, which led to some touching male bonding as we admitted our mutual addiction to the programme. Things got beyond parody when they started playing Spinal Tap.

Anyway, we moved on to have a very nice Vietnamese curry, then to the Roundhouse, the first time I've been there. If it had been a rock gig, I'd have said it was a small, intimate venue. But for a jazz gig, it was a cavernous barn, and this was a lot of the problem with this gig. The half-hour of African-influenced ambient stuff would have gone down very well in a venue like Ronnie Scott's, but in the roundhouse it was just a cue for many in the audience to have a very loud natter.

If I'm giving the impression that I didn't enjoy this gig, that's not right. I loved parts of it. There was a certain amount of Weather Report style noodling which tested the patience, but there were also moments of transcendence. Herbie is of course renowned for what he's done to make the synthesiser an acceptable instrument, and there was plenty of evidence to support this, but for me the best moments were those when he sat down at the piano and let rip. He's done an awful lot of groundbreaking things in his time, but at the heart of it is the fact that he's a phenomenal keyboard player, and it was in the moments that I heard that, unencumbered by sound effects or stylistic statements, that the force of the man was truly to be felt.

I took my camera along, but way at the back as I was, I couldn't get a decent shot. Them's the breaks.

p.s.: today's obligatory Bowmans plug: Please go to the Deli Magazine and vote for the twins in their Band of the Month poll. They're currently second, and they really should be first. Let's make it happen!


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Lucia said...

I'm going to have to grill you about that oh-so-subtle comment about Strictly Come Dancing ;o)