Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Bourne Conundrum

I read a review this week of Matthew Bourne's latest live set. It begins with he and his fellow musicians banging the lids of some six ex-junk pianos, eventually in rhythm. Later he does a version of My Way as '...cacophony that makes Sid Vicious' version sound urbane.' You get the drift.

We went to a Matthew Bourne gig at Warwick Arts Centre a few years back. The trio wandered on stage. The percussionist picked up and dropped various sticks and brushes, as if he was having trouble deciding with which to begin. The bass player started knocking and turning his bass as if he had never seen such an instrument in his life. Bourne drank half a glass of water and then tapped out a rhythm on the tumbler. We noticed that all this shambolic nonsense was beginning to suggest a groove, at which point Bourne broke the glass with whatever he was hitting it with and covered himself with water. He removed his wet jumper (hardly stage clothing - it was old, holed and baggy) and threw it into the grand piano. He then tried a few notes using the pullover as a damper. This lasted several minutes.

For the rest of the set (which included the largest interval, audience walk-out I have ever experienced) occasional melodies appeared but were soon chased off stage by improvisation. We sat through the whole performance, more out of wonder at what else might be done.

So if you ever ponder whether to experience Matthew Bourne playing live please note. No-one has any idea what he will do at a gig and whether any of it is intended. The lad can play though and is surrounded by great musicians most of the time.

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