Harold Budd, Brighton Dome, Brighton
Friday 27 May 2005
The avant-garde pianist and composer Harold Budd's final concert before retiring was a real coup for the Festival, with Bill Nelson, John Foxx, Robin Guthrie and Jah Wobble among those joining "the godfather of ambient music".
But it began more like a wake, not helped by the violin virtuoso Alexander Balanescu's sombre introduction. The audience greeted his string quartet almost reverentially, and as each short movement suddenly halted, you could hear the pages of the score being turned and the hum of static. Mournful renditions of "Chrysalis Nu" and "Three Faces West", though exquisitely timed, couldn't help but feel valedictory.
Budd entered, briefly acknowledging the audience. His stabbing chords counterpointed Theo Travis's beautiful flute playing, and on "Arabesque II", Budd's piano rolled and roiled, suggesting an anxious kind of restfulness. His music is always paradoxical in this way, the fragile beauty of the surface belying a darker emotional topography.
The mood was lifted with "How Vacantly You Stare at Me". Budd's minimalism has always suggested a film score (he has written a few) and this was aided tonight by Russell Mills's set design: four drapes and a giant backdrop burnt with colour.
The reception for the guitar legend Nelson - a few whoops, the odd "yeah!" - was as riotous as it got, but his guitar created a bizarre ecstasy on "The Trees Alone", an elemental spectacle with the echo and refrain of Foxx's gothic incantations turning the hall into a cathedral.
After the interval, Steve Jansen, formerly the drummer with Japan, appeared bathed in blue light and performed the solo gong piece "Lirio", which acted as an awesome segue into the 30-minute mega-jam that followed as the musicians collected on stage. You can see why Budd has liked working with the ex-Cocteau Twin guitarist Guthrie, who similarly squeezes so much out of so little. This was lift music in the elevator to heaven.
Otherwise, the music felt oddly desiccated, Budd's delicate piano all but lost under the other instruments. It wasn't until Jah Wobble's bass groove and Jansen's crisp drumming kicked in that some urgency was injected.
I suppose that a few here might have been secretly hoping that some friends could have arranged his infamous "topless choir" instruction for his "Madrigals for the Rose Angel" score as a send-off, but clearly that would have been too much excitement for everyone.
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
- 2 City traders pay £200 for a quick hangover cure
- 3 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Ball pool for adults opens in London
Gorillaz Phase 4: Cartoon supergroup is back as new artwork is unveiled
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
As Better Call Saul launches, here are the other spin-off shows we need to see
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
President Putin is a dangerous psychopath - reason is not going to work with him