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HOWE GELB & FRIENDS@THE BARBICAN (Review/s)

PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 1:53 am
by garth cartwright
Rushing to make the concert on time I managed to get ass knocked off bike on the Old Kent Road. Bruised and scraped but still functioning I returned to the saddle and managed to miss only the first song. How crazy is it to leave blood on the tracks in the hurry to hear music? Stupid dumb. But I’ve been following Howe Gelb for a long time so I didn’t want to miss this gig.

And I’m pleased I didn’t: Howe is a bit of Barbican pet, the central London arts centre underwriting several of his more ambitious projects, this man from Tucson, Arizona, who has never even achieved much cult success let alone written what Mojo might call “a classic albumâ€

PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 12:21 pm
by NormanD
I bumped into Nick H at the intermission last night and we had discussed which of us should write this one up. You won, Garth. I hope Nick shares his views too....

I saw Howe Gelb a few months back when he was touring the 'Sno Angel album, with The Voices Of Praise Gospel Choir, and the whole evening then was as punchy as those last few numbers last night. A really memorable evening. Last night was more of an introduction to his long, weird and pace-setting career (and showed me what a great and humourous ragtime piano player he is).

Too slow in parts, caused by musicians changing over and not filling in the silences, and not enough variation in pace - especially in the first half - the mood was initially too reflective, a bit insular. Then I relaxed more and everything fell into place. Howe Gelb is an innovator and a great collaborator. The musicians were clearly having fun playing together, and they were sharing it with us rather than keeping it to themselves. The couple of songs he did with the new-flamenco musicians suggests that the new album could be a treat.

A stand out for me - as much as The Handsome Family - was Mary Margaret O'Hara. As dotty as everyone's mad aunt, as she was when I last saw her (eight years ago?) she really showed the difference between being a singer and being a performer. She sang up a storm, included one of the songs from her cult album, but didn't over-dramatise. Mr Gelb wouldn't let her: he serenaded her exit with "Alouette", and kept it all on a good humourous level.

Howe Gelb chose his company of performing friends well, with complement, contrast and magnetism. His songs didn't dominate and he didn't muscle in. He accompanied as a rhythm section pianist rather than a Jools Holland look-at-me pianist.

Some of the best gigs I've seen have been evenings such as this - a whole congregation of different artists performing around a theme, with no attempt to out-play each other.

edited: I remembered the correct name of the Canadian folk song

PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 1:09 pm
by NickH
I didn't fall off my bike, so had no excuse for missing the first half hour of last night's Howe Gelb show.

A fine display of whistling from Isobel Campbell, I thought. I do regret missing the entire set of songs from Giant Sand though.

A pity the Handsome Family only had time for three of their excellent songs, but there was a lot to cram in (isn't Ringo from the Beatles also supposed to be a HF fan?).

The version of the Immigrant Song in the second half of the evening was pleasant surprise. I do hope Robert Plant hung around long enough to hear it.

Nice to bump into a few SOTW forum folk last night. Looking forward to seeing the Philip Ryalls pix...

PS Philip, do you have a web link for your recent ATP photos?

Re: HOWE GELB & FRIENDS@THE BARBICAN

PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 4:52 pm
by Martin_Edney
garth cartwright wrote:I managed to get ass knocked off bike on the Old Kent Road. Bruised and scraped but still functioning I returned to the saddle and managed to miss only the first song.


Sorry to hear about your accident Garth - glad to hear that you're only bruised and scraped - hopefully you're in a better state than I was after my bike collision of a couple of years ago, which saw me in casualty with a suspected broken neck. I collided with a New Forest Pony (don't ask...!) - hopefully you don't have them to contend with on the Old Kent Road.

Howe

PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 8:02 pm
by Philip Ryalls
A fine review Garth, I think everybody was happy last night; I especially enjoyed Emiliana Torrini's songs and Giant Sand's set with Henriette Sennenvaldt.

NickH wrote:Philip, do you have a web link for your recent ATP photos?


There are many ATP photos here: http://www.shot2bits.net/

I have posted photos of Mary Margaret O'Hara on www.redferns.com with photos of some of the other artists to follow.

PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2007 12:18 pm
by NickH
Excellent photos, Philip!