Gigs, dance, art

February 9th, 2008: Steve Coleman and Five Elements / Opus Akoben

@salle Jacques Brel, Fontenay sous Bois

I count myself lucky on that one. I only heard about it on Thursday, while looking for information about another gig. I got a ticket right away and it turned out to be sold out, so that was probably a close call. I knew I made the right move when I learned more about the lineup. First, they would be on stage with the hip-hop band that includes the two guys from the Pro-Verb project. Second, and most important for me, Jen Shyu would be there. I just love her voice. My luck held further on the way when I caught a nice sunset and found a park dark enough for me to gaze at the stars for a while before the show; listening to Vietnamese songs in that setting so close to a big city was a great disconnect that helped me get into a receptive frame of mind.

The show proved to be amazingly great. I was not as moved as the first time I saw Five Elements, but it came close. Completely different again, with less brilliance and more energy. Opus Akoben were a perfect complement, with two talented MCs including Kokayi who spend some time clowning around to great effect. It was great in that this great music was delivered with a sense of ease and fun, stripped of any pretend, even though it sure could warrant some. Again, I was in awe at the way Coleman appeared as just one among peers, no overbearing leader. And when he went for a solo, it was short and without any display of virtuosity. But it came to me as near perfect, with each note meaningful. In a sense, that feeling was close to what I got from listening to Miles Davis, even though he’s more verbose. I really love that as much as raw speed can turn me off.

The balance in that lineup is amazing. Each one got his moments, except maybe the bass and guitar from Opus Akoben. Two drummers with different techniques, but never overpowering, and the balance among players came across in the music as well, not exactly Coleman’s stuff, not really hip-hop either, some exploration of things in between and around both.

And of course there was Jen Shyu‘s voice. That alone would have been enough for me. I know it just shows how little I know, but the lack of words just got me into hearing voice as another instrument, stripped of meaning into pure music. It’s only the second time I hear her, but she’s reminding me of how Cynthia Loemij helped me get into dance many years ago, as someone who opens gates for me, letting me get a glimpse of something I didn’t know existed. I mean I knew voice was music, but I never felt it this completely. Anyone who can shut down my mind ranks as very precious to me. Unfortunately, her solo record wasn’t available there, and she probably won’t be touring nearby on her own; I know it’s probably very different, but I sure could use more of that guidance.

After that overpowering show, I was exhilarated and reluctant to go back to the reality of getting back home in the Saturday evening feel of mass transit. So I just went back to stargazing in that park, bookending this escape with other voices gently holding those gates open. Now closed for a while, but there nonetheless.


February 10, 2008 - Posted by | Life, Music | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Five elements une de mes plus grosses claques dans les 90′. Ils en ont tiré un live ensuite
    J’oublie pas non plus les Metrics..

    Comment by SdC | May 16, 2008 | Reply

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