Monday, 17 September 2012

Magick Brothers - Greystones

Music critics can be really mean. Fact. However, here's another fact: those worth their salt are as a rule fully aware at the time of viewing in any venue in any faculty, that whether the music floats their boat or not, it is unlikely they would be capable of reproducing something of equal calibre, when push came to skooch. So, that being said we can assume that about a good say, thirty percent of the audience shared my gut feeling of unease when Daevid Allen of Gong fame, aged approx 84, armed with 120 minutes of new material, stepped up to the stage of the Greystones pub, and promptly yet gracefully, forgot how to play his songs. The performance had begun slow and delicate, with a long poem about smoking in airports, minor scrapes, children, and all the other things that an ancient rocker would want to talk about. Delightful, but not quite enough to assuage that unsettling feeling that this legend of psychedelia was in fact about to do some sort of kamikaze cadenza and pop his elven clogs right there in front of us. He was doddering, like the tin man. He joined his companions Graham Clark (Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere) and Mark Robson (Kangaroo Moon) on stage in an -almost-- tentative manner as if resigned to being overshadowed and outnumbered by his fellow band members. The audience clapped politely at the end of the solo poetry piece, pleasantly surprised, though expectant of something more full throttle. Perhaps a new rendition of Have a Cup of Tea or some shamanism shenanigans. When it transpired that the band were in fact, if not under rehearsed, then a little less than confident, a sort of cold mist seemed to enshroud the room. Everyone was sharing a communal feeling of minor panic: that the golden age of musical experimentation was dying in this very room as this elderly musician of a by-gone age struggled to remember the first three chords of his set. In the deathly quiet as the guitar strings stubbornly refused to become attuned, audience members coughed, looked down, shuffled in their seats and tried not to meet each other's eyes. It was a strange musical awkwardness that, in retrospect was really quite beautiful, and something that can only come from the unfortunate and organic moments of nervousness. You'll be pleased to know (if you have ever had any appreciation for Gong and its offshoots) that the set 'grew'. Thankfully, Sheffield being Sheffield those who had ventured out to see this rare performance were not the type to poo poo something straight off. Patience, though tried, paid-off in the end. Eventually a varied and understated collection of songs came to fruition backed by Allen and Robson's fiery writing. Lyrical content touched fearlessly upon taboos of the century such as political warfare, slavery and burning rainforests. Sublime digereedoo fuelled the rhythmic trance and Clark's truly ethereal violin weaved in and out to produce a weird tapestry that was as sturdy as it was loose.

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