With added orchestra

Posted by jill on October 31, 2009

On two nights this week, I attended two band/orchestra concerts at the Barbican. For one thing, these gigs being performed in the place where normally classical concerts take place, these shows were great because so many of the problems of the standard gigs did not occur. Somehow, being seated in a grand concert hall, people did not talk through songs, we had a comfortable seats, and had great views. For all their similarities on paper, the two shows also had very different outcomes.

Efterklang and the Britten Sinfonia, originally uploaded by jellybeanz.

First of the week was Efterklang and the Britten Sinfonia. I only wanted to go to this show because I had wanted to see the support band, Jaga Jazzist, for the last few years (it turned out that this was their first show in the UK for about 4/5 years). Sadly, a concert hall set up does not really work well for bands who rely on amplification, however they are probably worth checking out again next year when they are back in a ‘normal’ venue. Prior to getting tickets for this show I had not heard of Efterklang at all. The performance was a great introduction to the band, and it was refreshing to see how the band had integrated with the chamber orchestra, with the band members performing amongst the orchestra members.

Grizzly Bear and the London Symphony Orchestra, originally uploaded by jellybeanz.

With the quality of the Efterklang collaboration and the programme notes suggesting that this would not be the typical orchestra performing as a backing to the band collaboration, it was disappointing to see that at times Grizzly Bear and the London Symphony Orchestra was just that. Maybe it was just that the months of anticipation and the excellent Grizzly Bear shows over the summer had made me think that the orchestra collaboration would be truly special. Yes, at times, especially for the grander songs like, Ready Able, I Live With You and encore track Colorado, the orchestra did fill out the songs. However, on some other tracks, the band almost drowned out the orchestra (but perhaps this was because I was sitting too close to to the front) and the show did not have the joyful energy that was present at the Efterklang show.

Still, it was a beautiful show to watch, and it’s only that Grizzly Bear set such high standards that I had my hopes up for something extraordinary. I hope they recorded the set, and some day release it to show what it should really sound.

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