I’m not sure where to start today – I usually start with the venue, but the South Devon Arts Centre is a new edition to Totters and I know that the owner, David will be chomping at the bit to hear the verdict so, being the benevolent wench that I am, I am leaving that for my finale!
WARNING: The following review is my personal opinion only. Nobody else should be held responsible, so here goes!
This lady has got a good voice and there was a lot of Patti Smith quotes and musings, obviously a huge influence, but I was not convinced.
I found three golden nuggets.
1) She is a newbie when it comes to all the technology so her relationship will settle as she gets used to it. She has only been performing with it for two weeks. It feels to me like the novelty of technology will wear off – it’s like when you do your first powerpoint presentation and you get overcome by all the fonts and pictures, so you use them all not thinking about what it looks like from the outside…
2) ‘Run Like A River’ used interesting Vibrato, running up and down scales mirroring the river, word painting – nice!
3) When she played the piano I actually looked at her. This is the effect that would have best suited her. There was a stripped back, less theatrical effect. She focused on her voice, and she seemed more emotionally connected with the material and she showed her talents. She has a good voice, I’d like to hear it without all that fancy pants stuff.
Loads of people turned up and there were comments of ‘she’s really good’ and ‘it’s nice to hear a jazz voice’. I recommend giving her a go – people like her, there was wooping, and that’s good isn’t it?
The Nordic Giants
At the beginning of the performance, before the first act, there were short films projected on the ceiling, these were courtesy of the NOrdic GIants and I REALLY wanted to lie on the floor underneath them to get good view (I had a bit of a crick in my neck) and almost did, got right down, right down i tell ya and then chickened out, when was right down on my elbows, no idea why, was in Totnes after all, no one would have batted an eye lid.
The Nordic Giants created a performance not a set. With booming bass, multiple instruments and sampling, combined with short films by different artists, it’s as if they are performing live soundtracks, with a highly emotive outcome.
After the initial track/film there was an audible exhalation from the audience as they realised that this wonderful onslaught on their senses would have a mini reprieve. When the Nordic Giants play there is no space in your aural field to hear any extraneous noise. I did not leave the auditorium during this performance. In fact I could hardly wrench my eyes from the stage, it was sensory schmorgasboard and I was filling my greedy little chops.
The films, a mixture of beautiful animation and live action, took you on a number of emotive journeys, transporting you to different worlds in bite sized chunks. The film-makers were independent artists, all of very different themes and they got credited at the end.
Ostensibly this was a gig, but in all honesty it was a full on performance with a beginning, middle and end. Each film, with its own live soundtrack had the bands logo at the end, so that the audience knew when each track ended. There was no breaking of the fourth wall, and, thank god, no talking at all. Then, to round of the performance, credits to thank everyone and to tell us who made the beautiful films and that was it, no encore, thank goodness, I don’t see any point really!
The Nordic Giants themselves chopped and changed instruments, acoustic drum kit to drum pad… trumpet to piano… guitar played by bow, mixing desk.
The costumes that the guys were wearing were animalistic. One had a wolf’s head on and a facehugger, from Alien, on his back. The other was wearing a lot of feathers and some leather apparel reminiscent of bondage gear. I am confident in saying that the majority of the audience would not have witnessed such a spectacle.
I had seen a few of their videos on YouTube beforehand, and believe me when I say they did not do them justice at all. If hadn’t been for my wholehearted backing of The Blackbird Collective, I wouldn’t have come. I’m bloody glad I did – see them live, you will not be disappointed.
I have one small problem, and I am not quite sure whose responsibility this would be, but there is quite a lot of strobe lighting and a warning should be visible on the tickets, website, door etc just in case of Epilepsy sufferers. This maybe the responsibility of the venue owners, I would recommend checking this out, I’m sure you would agree that it is worth it in the long run.
And now for the pièce de résistance,
The South Devon Arts Centre
The South Devon Arts Centre is owned by the same people as Studio Lounge and Totnes FM, the chairman and head honcho of which is David Parsley. I have referred to them in a number of my reviews and have commented on their inaccessible building.
At the front door I clocked the small steep to get in..(look we all know how picky I am, but even the small things need doing).
As I entered David appeared. “We’ve been waiting for you to come,” he said. He showed me to the disabled toilet that they had put in. I was impressed, it’s not finished, but it’s a start. The same goes for the building as a whole. Access wise, there is a throughway all the way to the stage but if you were a wheelchair user I think you would have difficulty getting through the door. There is only stairs to access the balconies, stage and the back stage area so if you are a performer, be warned.
The venue is, on the whole, great. It is like a Tardis – small on the outside but it opens out once you are inside. This is no studio lounge. The drinks are better, a little more choice, the auditorium is bigger, the toilets are bigger. The words potential, potential, potential spring to mind.
I would like to see more of the building and really get to the heart of what the SDAC are doing. SDAC have some really reputable sponsors, ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris and Richard Branson and it’s really just a foetus at the moment so I can’t wait to see what it grows into.
They have a lot of plans to work with well known performers, directors and playwrights, and community work was mentioned. That is something that Totnes needs, an accessible arts space… well almost accessible.
Boys, I can see what you are trying to do and I like it. You’ll get there and it shall be good. But don’t skimp, there is more to disabled access than a disabled toilet.