Thursday, 11 December 2008
It says something of my companions that they didn't think it was twisted enough (I wasn't expecting Masque of the Red Death).
We were at the Barbican for a pre-Christmas touch of songs and merry mayhem. A diverse gang of musos and actors performing yuletide fayre, with Jarvis Cocker, Patrick Wolf, the festively attired Smoke Fairies and many others. The evening had been arranged by David Coulter and a fair few of the band had overlap with Black Rider - the Tom Waits extravaganza.
Our little group had hurriedly consumed too much cider by the time it started and there was some inopportune giggling during the opening moments. I'd expected this to be a something of a 'one-off' convergence of musicians and so I was expecting a few hesitations between numbers as the band had to re-plug or check the running order. A kind of village hall performance within the Barbican. So I guess I was generally entertained throughout, although during the pitstop the discussion was about the level of twistedness.
So with my expectation already set to 'reasonable' for this, when the second half featured Matthew Robins' shadow puppetry from flyboy and the planet of the ghost snowmen, I was there.
Unfortunately, also in the second half, Jarvis Cocker was rather a disappointment with a half hearted 'God Rest Ye' and a song about slush. Did I detect some sheepish embarrassment on his face for not preparing properly? And Patrick Wolf had plenty of cheers but sang without really involving the top notch band in his performance. There were plenty of Wolf-styled followers in the audience, with bohemian styling being rather prominent. I assume these two appearances were to bump the names in the performer listings rather than really showcase anything.
Overall, I'd class the show as a mixed level of performance, with strong Bonfire Madigan performing slinky cello accompanied raconteur wonders.
Also delightfully edgy cabaret performance by Mary Margaret O'Hara, who seemed to be operating at several speeds during her set -"that just fell off the bone" she commented after leading the band through a slow song where she was revving on stage like a ferrari before cutting loose with the whole band on an uptempo song.
Sandy Dillon zizzed onto stage in a silver jacket and shades and worked a Christmas song with the Smoke Fairies in accompaniment. Then a small keyboard accompanied song and again the band picked up the pace to follow the leader. The Smoke Fairies also hooked up their own guitars for a while and sang to their own tunes. Foy Vance ended the main show with a couple of numbers with reasonable takes on Christmas shopping and the music of the retailers.
My account has little in common with the actual running order and I've left out a few performances. Whether or not it was all good, and whether or not it was fully twisted, I felt suitably entertained by the time 'Fairy Tale of New York' closed the show and we all headed for the drunk tank.