Gigs, dance, art

December 20th, 2007: The Ex with Getatchew Mekuria / Le Tigre des Platanes / Melaku Belay

@theatre Gerard Philipe

At least I got another wish fulfilled this year. Back in August I wrote that The Ex with Getatchew Mekuria was a gig I was eagerly expecting, and I did get that one (the other was Sunburned, no luck on the rest of that list). The evening didn’t start all that well with some public transportation trouble that had me running late. I did get there just in time though.

I don’t know the name of the first performer. I read that Melaku Belay was the dancer that joined him during a song, with these typical shoulder and head moves that just scream Ethiopia to me. I’d go out on a limb and say this was an Azmari performance, but that may just be me being ignorant. What I did see was a lively performance by a singer using a single-stringed, box-shaped violinish instrument. I didn’t understand a single word, but he proved to be adept at working a crowd, which seems to be a common trait to Ethiopian performers I’ve seen so far. I would have liked that set to last longer.

Then came a French band, Le Tigre des Platanes, who performed Ethiopian songs except for a great Dog Faced Hermans cover, appropriate enough in that setting. Drums, bass, sax and trumpet combo, they sounded like they had deep roots in jazz. It wasn’t that much of a good sign when that showed, but they did a great job of performing Ethiopian standards with some unusual personality. I’ve been told they are great people as well, which may have biased my opinion. On the other hand, I really wanted them to be done and make way for the main act.

Meaning The Ex, Getatchew Mekuria, and additional guests on saxophone, trombone, clarinet and bass. Maybe it was a bit too close to their record, but that’s just nitpicking. That show was great, Katherina remains my favorite drummer, G.W. Sok was his usual commanding presence when not hiding on the side, and Getatchew was just as good as advertised. The best was how much he seemed to be enjoying being there. He smiled throughout and danced with his instrument when not playing. That was such a great touch. The guy is definitely no dummy either; makes me wonder what he sounded like a few decades ago in his own country. He probably changed a few lives way back then, I wonder what came out of that. I feel blessed to have witnessed that performance, great as music and heart-warming in a way few have been in my experience. Even Wax and Gold turned out just as powerful but less painful than usual for me — I got some serious vibes about that song…


December 25, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment

December 19th, 2007: Michèle Noiret – Les Arpenteurs

@théatre de la ville

Here I wish I had proved smart enough to write it all down that day. I have enough trouble writing about dance without letting a full week go by. I had high hopes for this one, because there was a percussion ensemble on stage, and I’m a certified sucker for such things. At first it did hold up to these expectations, but overall the music wasn’t that great, so I just let it drop out of my mind. That was the first time I saw anything by this particular choreographer, and I think I might need more exposure. I really felt there were bits I should have understood but didn’t.

Overall I was disturbed by how realistic it was. I mean there were echoes of everyday situations, and I’m much more into abstract stuff, especially these days. And I was really put off by the aggressiveness of it all. Well, not all, but a lot, most prominent in the beginning, but going as a perceptible undercurrent throughout and emerging again at the end. It was not a single thing, more like the way I received it. Which means I may very well be the one responsible.

There were a lot of outstretched arms throughout, which I didn’t mind at all, providing some pure movement thread I could hang onto. So much so that some waving arm moves were a surprise and a treat, even though there really wasn’t much to it. That makes me thing some more familiarity with her work would have really helped me getting into this. I hope I have the opportunity to get that knowledge, because despite my misgivings I enjoyed this show and feel thwarted at being left outside so much of it.

December 25, 2007 Posted by | Dance | , | Leave a comment

December 18th, 2007: Stars of the lid / Peter Wright

@les voutes

Late post time. I went for close to a week without internet access or even a phone line. Poor time for that, but I’m lucky enough to have had that fixed right in time. One more day and that would have been blackout until next year. Not that I’ll have anything to write in that frame anyway.

That show started even later than usual, they blamed some traffic jams on their way from Germany. Peter Wright had some black and white images in the background, most of the time in slow motion and heavy on contrast. The music was a long slow arc from faint clean sounds to louder, dirtier mess. Of course I liked the latter better. No surprise, but good enough. I think the cold and wait actually made me more receptive.

That didn’t seem to carry over to the main act though. I was not all that familiar with Stars of the lid, but I had heard a lot of praise and some good enough songs here and there. I guess it would be easy to blame the delay and lack of a sound check, but I’d rather bite the bullet and say I was disappointed. I blame the three-piece string hangers-on for that. No, what I really blame is the unimaginative way the strings were used. Whenever the droning guitars were dominant and the strings just played some secondary role, it was actually pretty good. But at times the strings were out in front and the guitars subdued, and I was getting bored in a hurry. Kronos they’re not, but I don’t think anyone could have done much with that kind of lame material anyway. Didn’t exactly make me want to check out their latest release.

December 25, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment