Friday, January 15, 2010

Hang and bass clarinet action

Living Room, at Orange Street, Canterbury, January 14th, 2010

Hang virtuoso Manu Delago, accompanied by his bass-clarinet-playing friend Pepe Auer play under the name "Living Room". Here's Manu's hugely popular hang solo piece from Youtube:

I could have sat and listened to this kind of thing for hours, but somehow the performance left me rather cold. A bit too much of a novelty show. After a couple of pieces which were rather too "new age" sounding for my ears, we got an easy-listening cover of "Eleanor Rigby". Although the musicianship was superb, it was all a bit too perfect and 'precious' (or something). But then, to demonstrate the versatility of the instrument (and his playing of it), Manu broke into some hardcore drum & bass rhythms. That was sort of impressive, for a minute or two, but didn't seem to be coming from anywhere very deep within him. And it went on like this - we got a novelty cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (as if they'd try to come up with the most unpredictable cover for hang and bass clarinet, which in itself seemed just too predictable). There was a bizarre medley of Queen songs mashed up with something that sounded very 'Radio 2' (Carole King? Carly Simon?) - an Austrian attempt at zany humour? Pepe broke out his self-constructed 'pepephone' and they played some funky weirdness. There was something based on computer game music. And on it went.

At one point, Manu was playing three hangs (is that the correct plural?), but that's 'cos they're limited to nine notes each (rather than just to impress us, I hope). At least he didn't set fire to one, play it behind his back, or with his teeth!

The audience, it must be said, absolutely loved it. Noticeably older than the usual Orange Street crowd, and a bit more 'Totnes' than 'Canterbury'. So Living Room (rather a dull name, or am I just being overly critical?) must be doing something right. But I'd rather hear them playing from their hearts/souls, than putting on this somewhat stilted musical variety performance. Anyway, check the video - Manu's unquestionably an amazing musician.


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