Call me Russ L

Sing Sing Sing

Posted in Music by Russ L on 8 January, 2006

Originally posted on 5/10/5.

This was going to be entitled “Last mid-week,” continuing the pattern of the last few blog entries, but time slips by. This thing seems to be a reflection of my life in more ways than me just writing about things I’ve done.

The mid-week in question saw me attending a couple of musical events that weren’t really your ordinary gigs/concerts. Wednesday 21/9/5 was Yat-Kha at the Midland Arts Centre. I didn’t expect there to be a supporting act, but a chappy wandered on stage and I thought “Cor, He Looks Like That Babar Luck Bloke Wot Did Used To Be In The Band King Prawn.”

Guess who it turned out to be?

He was here to spread love and understanding and play us some of his “Shaolin Hip Hop Folk.” Babar is not your conventional one-man-and-his-guitar at all, and I’m sure purists would be horrified at his playing, but… sod ’em. They contribute nothing to the world. It’s all about the all-out balls-out energy and some interesting lyrics. He went down really well, actually, although sadly I think there were a fair few who were amused by him more than they actually liked him, if that makes sense. I liked him.

Yat-Kha are the band of Albert Kuvesin, a guitarist and practitioner of the art of throat singing from Tuva, Siberia. Throat singing is something to behold. Imagine a man singing a low, low note for a long, long time, modulating it in a way somewhat akin to a didgeridoo. In some ways it’s like the mirror image of Mariah Carey style high pitchery. It’s certainly something you wouldn’t believe was coming from a human mouth unless you saw it happening.

They were banned from playing western rock ‘n’ roll during the Soviet era, anyway, and so now they’re making up for it by playing a variety of covers and some of their own material by means of an interesting melange of styles. Not only are the vocals obviously very exotic, there was also a fascinating instrument (and I really don’t know what it was) alongside the normal guitar/bass/drums – a two stringed thing with pick-ups played with a bow, making a massively varied amount of noises through whatever effects pedals it was going through.

Wonderful, anyway. They do convey the impression that they’d probably rather be playing sweaty rock venues rather than polite art centres, but realistically that probably wouldn’t work. The highlight would have to be their absolutely jaw-dropping version of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” but they were great all round.

Thursday 22/9/5 I went to see ‘Carmen’ at the Symphony Hall, with the CBSO. I’ve been to symphonic things before, but never an actual opera. I don’t, therefore, have much of a frame of reference, but I can say that I really, really enjoyed it. I think I did have a bit of the typical first-timer-being-overwhelmed sensory overload thing helping me, but Katarina Karneus made a crackingly coquettish Carmen, and Leigh Melrose a brilliantly Spanish-macho Escamillo. I was expecting to really enjoy it a lot, and I ended up enjoying it even more than that.

Which can’t be bad, really.

~ Russ L

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