Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Pretentious? Moi?

John and Yoko sure have a lot to answer for. By crossing over the worlds of experimental and avant-garde performance over to rock and roll the world of music and indeed entry into the world stage has never been easier, talent be damned. The premise that anyone of a creative nature should have the platform to perform their art in front of a paying audience and should then be taken seriously and appreciated as such without sniggers and giggles is one I can’t quite bring myself to agree with.

Tonight’s show was performed by Petra Jean Phillipson, a performer that releases an aura of someone that has been told their whole life that every burp, fart and spilled drink is a personal expression of their own creative genius and should be treasured and treated as such. Elements of Gothic wordplay and Kate Bush falsetto runs appear throughout as well as some microphone/delay fun and games i.e “tut-t-t-t-t-t-t-t”, “wah-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a”. Attempting something new and trying to break sonic ground is one thing but titting about like a 5 year old with a reverb pedal is another.

Songs are performed quietly and thoughtfully although no one stands out enough to dare take the spotlight off of Miss Phillipson who holds the reigns very tight throughout. Moments of complete silence in the arrangements which began as light and shade to the music slowly became proof that complete obedience is demanded from the crowd and that even within silence the attention is never shifted from our headliner. Jaw droppingly enough tonight’s piece ‘Notes On: Death’ took 6 years to complete which for something like Zappa’s ‘The Yellow Shark’ or Brian Wilson’s ‘SMiLE’ you could envisage such a task and time frame, but for some slow acoustic based 3-4 chord ‘picking and a grinnin’ it seems that 5 years and 11 months may have been spent deciding on the wardrobe for the group over the music within.

The songs tonight are well crafted and performed sympathetically by the band keeping the mood easy and light with some punctuated fuzz guitar and a strangely misplaced 10 minute bass tuba introduction, kudos on the lung power but like someone who can eat lit cigarettes, its not how are they doing it but simply why are they bothering?

Support was given by Phillipson’s husband M.N Hopwood and a 2 piece group (including some excellent guitar and backing vocals) and with elements of Cohen and Mercury Rev his short set was in my opinion the highlight of this evening’s performance and whose recorded output I will definitely discover in more depth.

Tonight’s show was part of the Southbank Centres ‘Death: Southbank Centre’s Festival for the Living’- “4 days of talks, music, performance and poetry that gently life the lid on the subject of death”.


Many thanks to Rhianon Davies at 9PR


'originally posted on the 405'

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