Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Aarhus : 2

The second day at the festival panned out nicely. After a late and lazy breakfast with Joe Henry and Italian festival promotor Carla I took to the streets of Aarhus for a lonesome wander in the rain. I wanted to try and find a quirky little 2nd hand clothes shop that Di and I had stumbled across on our first visit here in 2012. This bizarre was a coffee house/come charity shop crammed full of treasures or trash depending upon the length of your beard or memory. Back then I brought a pair of leather framed pilot's Rayban sunglasses that I assumed made me look Top Gun but their wearing actually made people cross the street nervously (never since worn). Also, a beautiful pair of alligator slip ons that I've worn locally a few times much to the mirth of my grey suited Beaconsfield friends. We'd made an instant connection with the owner and her assistant but had later lost contact; names since long lost to memory. Streets lost in time too; I ended up disoriented and soggy; not such a bad thing in this charming maze. It's a very conventional town that's occasionally inevitably coloured by that Scandinavian broad minded liberalism. The most popular poster in the city, currently hanging from the sides of churches and office buildings is a graphic graphic of a naked woman with a luxuriant muff, peeing into a wine glass. I'm unsure what services are being offered but it's certainly and eye catcher. Anyway... strangely in need of a glass of wine I eventually found myself back at the fest restaurant for lunch and hooked up there with Sylvie who was in the company of Canadian throat singer Tanya Tagaq who was waxing about her participation in the evening's main event: Imagery of Perfection - A Global Concert. This would prove to be a digitally interactive performance involving Tanya, opera singer Bae II Dong, Spanish flamenco singer Carmen Linares and a whole host of dancers and musicians both in the theatre and beamed in from around the globe onto large screens. We were joined by Japan, Italy, Australia and the USA. The evening was overseen by the boys from Efterklang who orchestrated the performances and urged the (occasionally confused) participants on. This was fearless, seat of the pants stuff. There was much initial wailing and bewildered fretting about form and tempo. Folmer whispered 'Yoko x 3' in my ear, but this was no insult, just a recognition of the adventurous spirits present in and out of the room. The time lag necessitated relaxed musical motifs and timing but produced moments of true magic as the dissonance resolved; particularly towards the end of the performance when the white noise faded to reveal a beauteous whispered lullaby emanating from a waif like lady in Tokyo. Gradually the band and the audience joined her sweet song in an emotional finale, a gentle but stirring climax for both the performers and a totally engrossed and engaged audience. It was wonderful, challenging stuff; free beer too.
Talking of freeloading: I later joined Folmer and friends for dinner at Jimmy Holm's fantastic Spanish restaurant 'Canblu'. 

It's tapas but not as you know it; there's a unquantifiable to his imaginative world fusion cuisine. Great wine too, courtesy of the ever generous Mr Jepsen. I broke bread with Sylvie Simmons, Joe Henry, Billy Bragg, Rhiannon Giddens, Gustaf Ljunggren, Tony Garnier, Grant Lee Phillips, Carla, and, of course Folmer; a beautiful benevolent bunch. Joe revealed that he had recently produced an album for Chaz and Dave and... Billy Bragg's 'Tooth and Nail' album. That'll be my next vinyl then... There was an unforgettable chuckle of conversation that will linger long.
Later, but all too soon, we squeezed into one big people carrier and sped back to the hotel to avoid the wet and wind. That wasn't quite the end of the evening. Outside the hotel entrance the garrulous Tony Garnier and I shared our love of Sinatra and then traded variable but enthusiastic Derek and Clive impressions. Dylan's bassist is a funny and lovely guy. Just as we were about to run for cover Sylvie whipped out her Ukelele. Apparently this new uke is male and can only be tuned by mannish hands. Tony and I feyly fumbled with the thing (obviously lacking the sufficient testosterone) before Gustaf gallantly came to the rescue. And there we stood, like happy sodden pups as Sylvie serenaded the storm - somewhat appropriately - with 'Famous Blue Raincoat'. It was all beautifully bonkers; a magical end to a cracking second day.
It's Grant Lee's birthday today so I'm hopeful of a shindig and shenanigans after tonight's Trio show with Joe Henry, Grant Lee, Billy Bragg and Rhiannon. That's a quartet I know but, who's counting?
Here's the song that put me to sleep last night. It's a beauty:

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