la:la vol 2 review

Friday last week was the second Live Art:Live Art event at Contact Theatre. I've already written a description of my performance in a previous post. Now I'd like to review the rest of the evening.


Rather than a strictly chronological account I'm going to divide the performances into music and non-music, and discuss them that way. I will also deal with happenings off-stage separately.

Before that I should say that I enjoyed the evening a lot, especially not knowing what was coming next having never encountered any of the artists previously. Some of the performances were of course not things I'd normally seek out, but you'd expect that from an event of this nature. Do look out for their next event and get yourself down there.

The music in particular stayed mainly in areas I'm familiar with but not particularly interested in, so any comments should be read in that light.

Jezzabella's songs clearly owe something to poetry/story-telling. They cover familiar urban situations like broken glass on cycle tracks, or the distrust of strangers in public parks. She avoided the clich├ęd images and characters that can often blight this kind of songwriting.

Found Object (Gary Burton plus one other) didn't make much of an impression on me to be honest. There was nothing objectionable* about it, but on the whole it was music I'd normally avoid. Follow the link and have a listen though, you may disagree with me.

Rik Warren had a good guitar technique but it was his voice that particularly impressed - a high, almost strangulated, contrived sound. In a good way. He was playing pretty standard blues stuff, though happily free of the kind of technical sterility you sometimes find.

I found myself thinking about questions of authenticity. Of course someone living in Manchester at the beginning of the 21st century is never going to play an authentic blues and this is a good thing. If anything I would have liked greater bastardization and more impurity. I was going to add 'a greater reflection of contemporary life', but that's a tricky thing. For at least five centuries there have been times when artists have created interesting and often forward thinking work by consciously looking to a real or imagined past.

The Age Of Glass allowed impurities to leak into their folk/blues/indie sound, making it more compelling than it would otherwise have been.
By the standards of the kind of sound-making I more commonly listen to these impurities - voice changer, megaphone, synth drums, voices doing competing things at the same time - were relatively minor. By the standards of the genre constraints common to this kind of sound it was pretty refreshing.

There were other influences, like hip hop, also evident in the sound. It was clear the band aren't just nostalgists or purists, which in my book is always a good thing. Personally I prefer the kind of genre bending that Beck or Will Oldham started trading in around 20 years ago, or that David Thomas Broughton's been exploring more recently. But as I've emphasised before this is a purely personal view.

Lilybet Grey provided for me the most interesting bit of the evening in the performance space - although it's hard to convey that in a description. She sometimes works as a life model, and took people through three simple life-drawing exercises using pencils and paper provided.

All three concentrated on looking at the model rather than the paper. The first involved using simplified forms and lines to indicate a number of poses adopted in a short space of time. The second and third involved drawing poses using your non-dominant hand and not looking at the paper at all. Having no art school education it was all pretty new to me and I was reasonably happy with the results.

Paul Jenkins was a poet I haven't read or seen perform previously. His work is more in a conventional/confessional mode than the majority of what I read at the moment, but he was good. Although I've described him as in the conventional/confessional mode, a lot of his poems were not about him or his own experiences. They were often instead about other people.
No linky. He apparently have no blog.

You know all about what I did - or you can read about it here if you don't.

There were also interesting things happening away from the performance area between performances. I didn't wander about quite as much as I should have so I can't give you a mass of detail.

According to the programme Laura Gee, Bob Whalley [also no link] and Used Pencil were illustrating throughout the evening. I'm not sure if this was in a variety of locations or just the one. I did notice some work being created in the entrance area between the main doors to Contact and the performance space. I regret not hanging around and taking a look so I could report to you.

PowWow pedal power had a cycle powered generator to play music during the breaks. I didn't cycle, but it looked kind of fun, and another time I'll probably give it a go.

Edit 27 March 2011 - the paragraph below and the two following, for accuracy
There were installations by Ric Jones and Elle Brotherhood in the space. Ric's had attention drawn to it, and consisted of tags on which people had written messages attached to one of the pillars. I didn't take a close look, but I do find this kind of project interesting. If I find more information or images about this I'll be sure to link to them.

I'm not sure whether Ric has a personal blog. In fact, for anyone looking to be informed about the event apologies for my lack of adventurousness and limited links to specific information on the night itself. I'll do better next time.

I'm not certain what or where Elle's installation was, so apologies to her. The feathers in this post on her blog look similar to something close to the stage area on the night, so that may have been it. There may at some point be information/photos on this and other aspects of the night on the blog or the Facebook.

There were also two women moving through the space doing a kind of mime/performance art thing. Popping up in unexpected places, sitting in a suitcase, dancing, that kind of thing. For me they helped the evening feel a little less static.

Overall I enjoyed myself, even though some of the music was very far from what I'd normally put in my ears. I think it's an interesting format at a popular and accessible venue. Watch out for the next event and try to get there if you can. Not sure when that'll be, I'd guess June/July, but I'll let you know when I do.

*Do you see what I did there? Eh? Eh?

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