Tuesday, September 01, 2009

the bill, please

We went to see Bill Bailey at the Bristol Hippodrome last Thursday - Tony organised the tickets, despite having his fingers burned by the last trip he organised not exactly being deemed a universal success.

That was a trip to see Steve Coogan at the Colston Hall (also in Bristol) back in October 2008. I think the reasons for the slight general disgruntlement of the group with the quality of the show were twofold:
  • firstly, while I'm a big fan of his work, I don't think the sort of acutely observed character-based comedy Coogan does comes over that well on stage, where what works best are big visual things and obvious punchlines.
  • secondly, he did seem to be phoning it in slightly - I'm not sure if it was getting towards the end of the tour or something, but I got the impression he was more interested in the usual Cooganesque post-gig pursuits (if the tabloids are to be believed) like champagne, caviar and snorting cocaine off a prostitute's inner thighs, and was therefore keen to fulfil his obligation to actually perform on stage in as speedy and perfunctory a manner as possible.
Anyway, no such worries with the Bill Bailey gig, which was excellent; the usual mix of orthodox stand-up stuff (i.e. yer actual jokes) with lots of musical bits. As well as the obligatory Kraftwerk parodies there was some entertaining mucking about with some exotic musical instruments, including:
  • a theremin - you'll recognise the sound from its obligatory appearance in the soundtrack of most 1950s sci-fi films (Forbidden Planet, for one), as well as from Led Zeppelin's 1970s stage show. If you want one of these it'll set you back the sterling equivalent of about $400, so maybe £250 or so.
  • an oud, which is a sort of fretless lute - looks like you can pick up one of these for a couple of hundred quid.
  • a Tenori-on, which is a fascinating bit of electronic kit from those inscrutable Japanese fellows - this Independent article has a couple of embedded videos which give you the general idea. These are like gold dust at the moment, but if you don't mind waiting you can probably expect to pay around £800 for one.
While we're on the subject of music, here's an interesting use of YouTube - In B flat is a kind of build-your-own-music facility. Have a go, cue in the various videos periodically, mix them together; it's quite cool. At least, as long as the kind of music you want to build is of the noodly ambient mantra type, which admittedly won't suit every mood, but will be perfect for those more contemplative moments. I mean, dude, have you ever really LOOKED at your HANDS? Whooooooaaa. Mine are, like, HUUUUUUGE.


everlands said...

oooh that's one of my favouritest ever films, Forbidden Planet ... but, contrary to popular belief, the soundtrack does *not* feature a Theremin! The music was made using an early sort of electronic synthesiser, and the similarity to the sound of the Theremin was entirely coincidental.

electrichalibut said...

I'll get me coat. Feel free to substitute any other 1950s sci-fi film of your choice that does feature a theremin then, if that'll make you any happier.