Friday, January 16, 2004

Well we spent last night in the company of the very strange but always beguiling Howe Gelb at St Georges. We both really enjoyed his album The Listener, which we picked up in Paris during our trip in April. I must confess to only hearing a little bit of his work with Giant Sand, and the vast array of material that he has recorded in the past 20+ years, so we did not really know what to expect.

Fortified by some excellent noodles from Wagamamas and sublime cakes from Boston Tea Party, we made our way to St Georges in a good mood. This was increased when we bumped into several friends in the bar (some of whom, had seats next to us by complete coincidence!). The start of the show was somewhat strange, Howe Gelb shuffled around the stage moving instruments around, whilst music played over the PA. He then walked over to a portable CD player and abruptly stopped a song mid way through, indicating that the show was about to commence.

As it turned out the CD player played an important part in the events of the evening. He used it to play us some unfinished tracks from the new Giant Sand album (joining in with some guitar solo’s as he did so), also using it to have Miles Davis add a trumpet solo to one of his songs and using some of the CD’s as effects by placing them on the stings of his piano, which produced at strange metallic sound, not dissimilar to a harpsichord.

The first 15 or 20 minutes of the show produced a lot of a confusion as Howe ambled around trying to find “the vibe” of the room, seemingly with no real idea about what he intended to do. Eventually he called Jon Parrish onto the stage to play drums and the addition of another musician seemed to have a calming effect, as he went on to perform some beautiful piano based songs. When he switched to the electric guitar things seemed a bit messy again, but that may be down to the acoustics of the room rather than the performer. Anyway it all made for a very entertaining (if occasionally confusing) evening. He is truly a maverick figure, completely at home with the idea of challenging both himself and the audience.

My dad returned home yesterday after his recent heart attack. The signs are good for the future, as long as he can keep away from the Clotted Cream, not easy for the men in our family! Things are not so good with Orynthia’s dad at the moment, but I don’t really want to go into that too much for the time being.


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