lundi, janvier 29, 2007

This is a change

28th of January, Studio Grand Théâtre de la Ville de Luxembourg

After the electric Friday and the thundering Saturday, we chose something quiet for Sunday. For that reason we watched the play L'échange, written by Paul Claudel and directed by a certain Juncker at the Grand Théâtre (in the small room, though, which keeps a slight resemblance with a garage where you decided to hang a few curtains, lay a few chairs and perform something in the empty space).

Actually, it was too quiet. Almost boring, apart from Marthe, who was getting on my nerves. The plot was interesting, though: a free spirit married to a devoted woman and both confronted with a cynical (and pragmatic) millionaire married to a debauched young actress. All four characters have a radically different approach to life and to everything therefore their interaction is not deprived of interest. The scene was minimalist (with the word OCÉAN in black characters on a white curtain) but attracting all attention with its black and white contrasts.

The action is quite clear, but I am not repeating it: I will simply retain that the plot was nice, and the 'exchange' in the title is not just a word. The overall language passes also the test: impossible metaphors for the Peter Pan and his painful wife, pyrotechnics every now and then, down to earth reality and uncomfortable truth in the millionaires' lines (for instance: c'est bien de faire de l'argent... what a country to say this!). Even the actors are endurable. Nicolas Bridet makes a more than real Thomas Pollock. Nicole Dogué plays a very good role as his wife. Jacques Roehrich exaggerates sometimes his childish attitude but is, on the whole, acceptable. But, unfortunately, Myriam Muller should be reminded that even to stumble you need some style. It is really difficult to stand her (or maybe her character) or the way she speaks, walks and moves.

The worst thing was the rhythm. It was slooooooooooooooow. Besides, it left to much space for the unbearable Marthe and the actor (so to speak) behind her. And one more thing: the background noise was making me nervous.

dimanche, janvier 28, 2007

Non si esce vivi dagli Afterhours

27th of January, d:qliq (second night)

Like a criminal, I came back to the place where the crime happened the night before. This time there were no surprises: the place was known by now, the old youngsters playing were a familiar presence (Enrico Gabrielli said hello to me as if we were old friends), and I recognized some of the songs. They even made the same tricks as the night before: they played "a heavy metal song from the 18th Century" -this time without explaining that Mozart invented this music style- and Manuel played the guitar smashing the strings against the microphone holder.

The second concert was as good as the first one. On the whole, this second night's volume was more reasonable (curiously enough, the first song was slightly lower than the rest) but the sound was closer to psychedelic rock standards. Something more direct than complex. That means: stronger music, lighter noise.

This second occasion also gave me a chance to pick up my preferred songs. I've chosen "Non si esce vivi dagli anni ottanta", "Voglio una pelle splendida" and, well, yes, the heavy metal song from the 18th Century ("Come vorrei"). This 'minuet-rock' sounds so different from the rest, so fragile but firm, that I could not help selecting it.

samedi, janvier 27, 2007

After dark

26th of January, d:qliq

There is a first time for everything. On Thursday it was my first filling in a tooth. Yesterday was my first time mixing bike and snow. And, a few minutes later, the first time at d:qliq (new year, new venue). It was not the first time I was going to a concert knowing almost nothing about the band, but that's another story.

My entrance at d:qliq could not be better. I was very happy to see that there are Latin enclaves even in Luxembourg. It was announced everywhere that the concert was at 20.00h and that the doors opened at 19.00h. After buying the ticket (that is, getting my hand rubberstamped with a pair of feet), DJ Moustache announced me "The concert will start at 21.00h, is it ok?" Not exactly, but there was no point in telling him: I simply stepped sideways to leave room for the next guest. After he bought the ticket, I eavesdropped Moustache saying "The concert will start at 21.15h, is it ok?"

Then, it was time for a beer. I had time enough to examine the place and get permeable to the atmosphere. I liked d:qliq: it was small (let's say 'cosy'), one wall as if it has been decorated by Pollock in a high night and the other with the bare wall (stoned) and scattered ready-mades (among which, a still picture of the place that for some reason or other always dragged my attention). Everybody seemed to know each other so I felt slightly out of place, although the organizer almost wanted to introduce me to everybody else (vilmols merci). The music was simply excellent (including Sígur Ros, if you know what I mean) and bringing me memories of Penny Lane days (and you do not know what I mean).

To kill time, I kept an eye and an ear to the entrance door. Although the British music and the Luxembourg staff, I insist it was a Latin enclave. After a few tickets, it was sold out. But then another guy managed to have a ticket sold. And a group of ten managed to squeeze four of its member in. And maybe somebody else made it... This reminded me of Latin American buses, which are never, but never full enough.

When time came, we moved upwards. They let us in up a narrow spiral stairway. To me it was as if they were allowing us to do something which was not completely legal (I have to say that it was not completely safe, but keep reading): it looked as one of those places that are supposed to be closed at a certain time but open a little door for the habitués when the hour comes. By the way, these places are called Afterhours, just like the band.

The upper room was, in size, more or less like the waiting room. It had some very old-fashioned wallpaper and a carpet that looked from a trunk sale, but it remained cosy. A few heavy doors were nailed (or screwed) against the windows, maybe to prevent the glass panes from rattling (or exploding), or even to avoid having people jumping out of the window. No reason to do it, except if you feel claustrophobic or you have just read 'The pit and the pendulum'.

Then Afterhours appeared (by the way, it was 21.25h). Roar. Thunder. Standing ovations. They looked old and shabby dressed in black. Like a ghost of the seventies or endured survivors of unhealthy life. And then the concert started. Unfortunately, it was an unplugged concert. By 'unplugged' I mean that I had no ear plugs (like many wiser ones, for instance, DJ Raf, the radio star responsible for Sentieri Sonori, the radio show where I had listened to Afterhours before the concert) and I had to suffer the volume as it was.

Really, the first song was a blast: I have never heard anything so loud in my nightlife. The lyrics could have been in any language: it was absolutely impossible to understand anything that Manuel sang. The reverberation was almost unbearable, but it was a powerful song, a great one. After that, the guy with the mixer realized that maybe it was too much and lowered the volume for the next numbers. It was loud anyway, but affordable. I had to keep rocking my head, anyway, not only because the music impelled me to do it, but to avoid the strong notes from hitting always the same place in the inside ear and therefore poking a hole in my eardrum.

No wonder why smoking was not allowed. With the smoke and the notes filling up the place, we would have for sure suffocated.

Besides the jokes (and the noises), it was a great concert. This band is pure energy. They have a dirty sound which is somewhat similar to The Doors or The Kinks, with some influences of the dark side of the music (cf. Tito & Tarantula). Lyrics in Italian or English, when I could follow them (not only the noise is to blame, also my ignorance), had a message. The performers showed their skills playing different instruments in different tunes. They were not very talkative, and although 90% of the roaring audience was Italian or Italian-speaking, they insisted speaking in English. But it did not matter, since the audience was completely devoted from the very beginning.

Maybe it was due to the space itself. As a concert goer, I love gigs in small places, in close contact with the artists. Here I even had to dodge my head to avoid having an eye popped out of its socket by Dario Ciffo's violin bow. It was possible to smell that Roberto and Manuel were not drinking coke. So, imagine the atmosphere in the first rows.

After the brilliant concert, the party went on downstairs with more Italian rock, but now on tape (that is, CD). We had a few beers with the band, and decided to retire around one o'clock in the morning. Cycling back home on the snow (and not under: it stopped snowing sometime during the night) I was wondering: how will it be tomorrow?

lundi, janvier 22, 2007

El meu amic Armando...

20th of January 07, Philharmonie

Many music styles started as entertainment for the lowest laymen and finished as the most refined among posh finesse only for the consumption of abstruse intellectuals. That was the case with jazz, blues, Balkan Gipsy music, Flamenco, or Greek ρεµπέτικο, for instance. This always makes me think that, deep down, we might be all the same. And also that the most personal, the deepest inside you yourself alone, happens to be common to all the others. Tango was also one of these 'mutant' styles. However, to explain its way from Buenos Aires cat houses to the Philharmonie de Luxembourg I would need much more space (and much more knowledge, of course).

In any case, tango made it to the Philharmonie together with Juan José Mosalini and his orchestra. Orchestra meaning 11 musicians: 4 violins + 1 alto + 1 cello + 1 piano + 3 bandoneon. These extraordinary performers created a neat sound, a sweet sophisticated melody, from what used to be a dirty music (or, as another musician, Gianni Coscia put it, l'espressione verticale di un desiderio orizontale). It was like listening to classical music but with a twist, a coloured air. Ninety minutes of excellent tunes, some extracted from the darkest archives of the Argentinean music, some especially composed for that group, two tributes to master Piazzola and at least one very popular number (of course, with a personal touch and the good old Cumparsita became quite difficult to spot). It was a pity not being an expert to savour all the differences between the old and the new tango.

We had a great time, though.

Of course, you can always find someone to complain. The kind of people that claims that the dirtiness is an added value, that roughness has its charm, and that once you pasteurize and filter tango, they are no longer serving you genuine tango (to put it in DJ Shantel's words: "this is too aseptic - we need some smell in here"). Although they do have a point (I normally prefer eating at my aunt mother's than in the most sophisticated five-starred restaurant), I cannot but conclude that Saturday's was a great concert. And something quiet to start the year.