Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Boot Lagoon (acoustic) and the-quartet at Free Range

Veg Box Cafe, Canterbury
Thursday 24th October, 2013

This was definitely the busiest, liveliest Free Range audience yet. As with Arlet earlier this year, The Boot Lagoon brought in some of their considerable local following, so the average age of the audience almost halved from the usual clutch of local academics and arty types who show up most weeks to hear challenging avant-garde sound-art, etc., and the space filled up to beyond capacity.

I was glad to see that they'd decided to do an acoustic set, with Callum on piano, Cameron on double bass and Seth playing his drums with brushes. Unfortunately, due to train-related issues, guitarist Pete had been unable to rehearse with the other three for this one, so he remained in the audience, getting to enjoy hearing his own band live for a change. This was probably the Boot set I've most enjoyed, just because it was such a pleasant surprise and the audience was fully attentive, but the music also revealed hidden depths with all of the electronic elements removed... Cam has become quite formidable on the double bass and the electric (which he plugged in for their final, and newest, piece, "Timoteo"). "Woodland", the first piece they ever wrote together, was played penultimately (it's the one which appears on their EP with the anagrammatic title "An Odd Owl"), and there was a piece Callum announced as "Eugene", but other than that I struggle to connect names to their (all instrumental) compositions. I think some of the older Free Range regulars who'd never heard them in their normal electric quartet form may have just assumed them to be an unusual sort of young jazz trio. Which they could very easily be, if they wanted to...afterwards Cam and Pete were enthusing to me about the Neil Cowley Trio (the bass player of which Cam recently replaced in London-based internationally touring funk band Mamas Gun) as well as Roller Trio.

Callum's brother Joel (bass player in Syd Arthur) was present, along with parents Gabby and John, so I got a quick SA update — they just finished a UK tour supporting Paul Weller, culminating in a Saturday night at the Hammersmith Apollo. A good experience, all-in-all, especially getting used to projecting their sound into "huge cavernous venues", but not all elements of the Weller audience are so open-minded, so not always easy...

the-quartet (Free Range organiser Sam Bailey on piano, local guitarist/singer/songwriter Jack Hues on guitar, and Led Bib rhythm section Liran Donin and Mark Holub) then played a set that mostly consisted of sections from the music written for the experimental poetry collaboration Rote-Thru, although they also squeezed in a song Jack had written, setting a poem by regular Free Range poet Kelvin Corcoran, and clearly betraying his love of Lowell George/Little Feat. They finished the set with Robert Wyatt's "Sea Song" — I've seen them do this before, but this time Sam added a little intro with his newly acquired Indian harmonium. A couple of lyrical flubs (the same ones as last time!), but not a bad version overall. Still, I can't quite get used to anyone else singing that song, it being so personal.

Next week's a Halowe'en special which involves (among other things) Arlet playing a medley of horror film soundtrack themes(!) and me (as Prof. Raphael Appleblossom) giving a maths lecture (on The Monster) with improvised musical accompaniment. I need to start studying my notes!


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