Since stumbling across The Cinematic Orchestra in 2002 (thanks to Radioactive and Ninja Tune) they have consistently been one of my favourite acts and I have waited this long to see them live – indeed it is no accident that the title of my blog is taken from the name of one of their tracks.
Friday November 2nd came round quickly – Having spent half the week frantically checking my mail box for the gig tickets and the other half listening to as much Cinematic Orchestra as i could handle I was well prepared for what would prove to be one of the best gigs I have ever had the opportunity of attending…
With the concert scheduled to start at 7:30 we arrived with enough time to join the buzzing crowd of all ages at the Royal Albert Hall in South Kensington. It was good to see such a large number of fans turn out to see TCO, looking at the diversity of styles represented over their albums it was anyones guess as to what style they would adopt. The concert was held in the main chamber of Royal Albert Hall which is an impressively restored venue and well suited for the night ahead. The room was dimly lit, with artwork from their latest album in the background, one got the feeling of being in an oversized jazz club, at atmosphere of . As Gilles Peterson took the stage and introduced the Orchestra, he reminded us that we were to witness a first in the history of The Cinematic Orchestra – full support from a live and well equipped 24 piece Heritage Orchestra – no need for additional samples and no compromises on sonic capability!
Without further ado Jason Swinscoe (TCO’s front man) and orchestra took the stage and conducted the orchestra to a spine tingling opening of ‘All That You Give‘ featuring the vocal talents of Heidi Vogel. Having listened intently to their music for a number of years it was fascinating to see the whole band in action, J.Swinscoe was in charge at the front directing everything and ensuring that it all went to plan, the way the sound was layered was amazing and i’m sure the sound engineer must have spent hours tweaking everything to get it to sound just right.
The night flowed very well, vocal tracks were punctuated with long instrumental jams which TCO are known so well for, there were also a number of cool and quirky interludes which featured usually just two members of TCO descending into experimental self indulgence – such as a sound match between the saxophonist (Tom Chant) and the Dj / guy messing with the sampler.
Crowd was both excited and extremely appreciating, applausing after each song and solo and screaming for more. Highlights from the first set include the opener, ”As the stars fall” and the acoustic version of their latest single ”To Build a Home” – performed and sung by guitarist *Grey Reverend. After a short interlude / beer run (4quid for 275ml really?!) the audience quickly reseated and prepared for another hours worth of spectacular sounds. First up was my personal favourite Burn Out, which extended for a stunning 13 or so minutes of solos and jamming – i managed to catch the last 3mins or so on my phone – unfortunately it is only worth listening to as I was too far away to get a good picture – you can get an idea of what it was like anyway… The rest of the second half included a few of the new tracks from the Ma Fleur album, Familliar ground and the first single Breathe.
When it came time to finish the audience would have none of it – their five minute standing ovation and shouts for more rewarded by an encore of Evolution, Time and Space and the ever popular Man with a Movie Camera. Heidi Vogel (eska, vula) was recalled to take vocal duties of (what i thought was) a short version of the 2002 hit single which was performed to perfection. Time and Space, the closing track of Ma Fleur featured the talents of the sexy Lou Rhodes whose sublime intonation and unique vocal characteristics fit perfectly with the Orchestra who were used to full advantage, once again filling out the mix with their compelling string arrangements.
To the audiences delight Gilles Peterson also announced that the gig was to be recorded for a live album – after a bit of digging around i found this website which has other recorded shows from TCO, so even if it doesn’t make it to a full Ninja Tune release, at least it should be available for re-listening pleasure – I can’t wait to hear it.
*Cheers for the correction, so many names to remember! Incidentally i notice that this version is on the new single of To Build a Home available here..