An interesting evening at the Wiltshire Music Centre with Lau. I've mainly heard their stuff on the radio so wasn't really prepared for the vigour of their performance, at least of Martin Green and Aidan o'Rourke, Chris Drever sat in the middle like a puddin', albeit one with an extremely lively left leg, maybe it was his impersonation of a haggis. On several occasions I thought Martin was going to dive into the foldback speaker and it appeared that he had upset Aidan somewhat who seemed to be winding himself up to launch wildly across the stage at him, that is when he, Aidan, wasn't having frightful nightmares, the kind one sees a cat having when it's dreaming of hunting.
Did all this activity come out in the music - it certainly seemed to.
The set opened as they came on stage with extremely loud booming coming out
of the speakers which melded with the opening bars of their intro until what
was at first indistinguishable became clear(er). People could be seen surreptitiously
stuffing tissues, cotton wool, seat covers into their ears as the wall of
sound (Martin referred to it later as a wall of folk music but that is a
moot point) hit them from a range of around eight feet, not what the regulars
at the rather genteel WMC are used to but much appreciated by the faithful
(including a halfways famous radio presenter) who had trekked here for the
I was impressed by Martin's use of his instrument, and the variety of sounds that he conjured out of it (with the assistance of a certain amount of electrickery) was highly entertaining.
Aidan is undoubtably a fine fiddler although Dave Swarbrick seems to conjure twice the amount of notes with a quarter of the effort.
Chris kept the whole thing together with his driving guitar work.
Frantic tune followed frantic tune with an occasional brief interlude for a quieter (but only by comparison) song by Chris (and I'm afraid I don't reckon his voice much). There was much use of electrickery, a bit of chat and a lot of noise.
I suspect I came with my wrong hat on; I was expecting a more sedate folk evening, albeit with a 'youf' coating aimed directly at the mafia who currently control a lot of what we hear on the airwaves. If I had been prepared for extended extemporising on folk(ish) themes (using instruments generally considered to be the mainstay of the folk world doesn't necessarily qualify one as a folk musician) using electric driven machines operated by wild dervishes it would have been great (I think). Certainly by the second half, when I knew what was coming, I enjoyed it much more (and it seemed to be a little quieter and clearer) and I have to report that Mrs Riverdale thoroughly enjoyed the whole gig, loudness notwithstanding (she was one of the ear stuffers).
I also have to admit that, once I had got used to the volume, the sound was pretty good; the WMC, with it's glorious acoustics designed for chamber music, can be, and usually is, the death of high powered amplified music as the visiting sound engineer wrestles with the hall normally to the detriment of the engineer, but Tim Matthew did an excellent job.
Looking back I think the music of itself lacked something; well dressed though it was, it seemed samey and repetitive. Listening to it was like sitting out at a ceilidh as the band go through endless permutations of the tune in order for the set to come out. Would I go to see them again? Probably not, at least not at a venue like the WMC, although Mrs Riverdale, who wasn't too bothered when we booked the tickets, is a converted fan.
My one word impression — LAUD