Skip to main content

Counterflows - Day 3


Kinning Park Complex/CCA, Glasgow
4 stars
Theatrics were to the fore on the third and final day of the inaugural
Counterflows festival, which proved to be an intense and largely
song-based affair featuring an array of left-field divas
and show-people. With Sunday afternoon’s events at Kinning Park’s
artist-led space curated by the small but perfectly-formed
Tracer Trails organisation, none were
showier than Iain Campbell F W, whose live art display involving
assorted amplifiers, recording devices, record players and laptop
footage of himself seemed to question the nature of performance itself.

Following Saturday’s trio set, veteran Swedish drummer Sven-Ake 
Johansson’s solo routine began with him utilising two copies of the Yellow Pages to
skitter out a series of clip-clopping percussive patterns which
occasionally broke into a gallop. While the extended rolls on a snare
drum that followed were just as much fun, once Johansson picked up the
brushes to vamp it up on “three love songs”, the scat vocals and
Swedish-accented shoo-be-doos became something else again.

Opening the evening programme at the CCA, German singer Margareth
Kammerer combined a strident blues rasp and minimal electric guitar to
interpret poetic works by e.e. cummings, William Blake and un-named
Portuguese lyricists to startlingly dramatic effect. Looping her vocals
to heighten her stark incantations, there were moments that recalled 
the post Lloyd-Webber rock folly Julie Covington’s version of Alice
Cooper’s Only Women Bleed if she’d been put through an avant drone
blender.

With Bill Wells clearly en route to national treasure status,
it should be noted that his National Jazz Trio of Scotland do not
play conventional jazz, and indeed aren’t a trio. None of which matters
in a sublime set of school assembly style melancholy, in which Wells’
exquisitely understated piano patterns underscored a collection of
equally lovely vocal performances. When not soloing, Aby Vulliamy, Kate 
Sugden and Lorna Gilfedder provided harmonies for each other in a
beguilingly charming display unmatched since Weekend’s Alison Statton 
was backed by pianist Keith Tippett at Ronnie Scott’s thirty years ago.

The extent to which Japanese polymath maverick Kazuki Tomokawa is
regarded became clear when the entire contents of his merchandise stall
was snapped up before the gig even started. Once a trilbyed-up Tomokawa
picked up his acoustic guitar to belt out an hour’s worth of urgent
little litanies, it was easy to see the appeal. His cracked whispers,
manic laughter and wracked version of highly-strung troubadourism are
as raw as anything by Jacques Brel, and his delivery just as startling.
At one point early in his set he attacks his guitar with such ferocity
that the string he breaks is shoved aside while he retunes as he goes.
It’s a fitting climax to what looks set to be a major addition to
Scotland’s increasingly fertile contemporary music scene.

A shorter version of this appeared in The Herald, April 10th 2012

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…