Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Gruff Rhys / Voice of the Seven Woods / 9 Bach Glee Club, Birmingham Tuesday 6th March 2007

For once we managed to get a front row seat at the Glee (a major plus point unless you have no legs as the seats are DVT-inducingly close to each other) - hurrah! This joy was further compounded by the haunting beauty of 9 Bach. There are normally loads of them but tonight we had the pleasure of just 2 of the band (2 Bach you could say...but then you would wouldn't you?). Sung entirely in Welsh, with a brief summary of the key points before each track, it reminded me of just what a beautiful, mysterious kind of language it is. The female vocalist had one of those voices that you could just dive into and splash about in (oh dear...I'm off again). It actually made me want to learn the language just so I could enjoy the songs even more...but then, in a strange sort of way, not being able to understand the words never really bothers me that much. A well sung song communicates on a different level n'est pas?

Voice of the Seven Woods was on next. Strong shades of John Martyn, perhaps even a harder Nick Drake in places. Such was the speed of his fingers across the geeetar that his hand resembled a spider on acid. Yes. Acid I tells ye.

Someone else who might possibly be familar with a range of chemicals (endorsed by spiders or not) is Mr Gruff Rhys. Here to promote Candylion (a simply brilliant album) he had a whole table full of toys and musical instruments which he played, sampled, picked up and put down again...all whilst singing in that unique voice of his. Photos were banned so you'll have to imagine the scene, but he resembled a slightly stoned office worker whiling away a Friday afternoon. He makes it all look so easy and laid back, but bloody entertaining at the same time...I could just watch and listen for days. Talking of which the highlight for me was the final track of the night, Skylon, a 14 or so minute epic (even longer tonight I think) about a bomb on a plane. It's the sort of track that just goes round and round, on and on...a tantric track in fact (with a Sting in the tail - boom boom!). Sublime and surreal at the same time. Gruff Rhys then - super and furry (well, he's got a bit of a beard and shaggy can see where I'm going...mad possibly?).

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