Keith Jarrett’s standards trio played to a packed Royal Festival Hall last night (27 July) Made up of Jarrett (on Steinway) bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette, this was a evening of intensely beautiful music played by true masters of their craft.
Again, we find ourselves experiencing a concert far from the norm (for us) but with an affection for the ECM label back in the Seventies I just felt inclined to try, a live high profile live jazz recital at last.
A very respectful audience saw the trio arrive on stage at 7.40 pm take a deep bow, play fifty minutes of sublime music, 'St. Louis Blues', 'In Your Own Sweet Way', 'Sandu', & 'What Now My Love', and retire for a break. The second half included 'Yesterdays', followed by' When will the Blues Leave' with added drum magic.Four encores followed as the trio left and rejoined the stage that many times.
At the end of the gig I did wonder if this was the path for an aging concert goer. Comfortable seat, no earplugs required, early start, early finish, no rush to get the last train. A few years down the road I think but with a combined aged on stage of around 200 I guess, this was certainly an evening for the musical connoisseur.
The sound balance levels and tone were pitch perfect throughout, rather like an ECM vinyl recording. Jarrett’s playing was actually quite stunning, fingers flowing across the piano or, bent low over the instrument picking out the most delicate notes that would even make an angel weep.
On the weekend that we lost a magnificent musical voice, it was reassuring, nay, reaffirming to see Irma Thomas performing in London last night for the first time (she said) in over twenty years. Her first single ‘(You Can Have My Husband But) Don't Mess with My Man’ was released in 1960, and her voice was as magnificent last night over ninety minutes as I am sure it was in her earlier career.
Delighted to be on stage, with a wicked sense of humour and more than happy to take requests, however obscure, she sang what she “could remember” and she could remember a lot! On occasion she just sang the vocal as the band didn’t even know the song, something a few artist would not go near attempting.
Dubbed the ‘Soul Queen of New Orleans’ her heart obviously belongs to that city and the most stunning moment of the night came with a vocal and keyboard cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Shelter from the Rain’, which was so intense your mind drifted to not only New Orleans but also the othertragic events of this weekend.
‘Time is on My Side’ and countless greats were sung and lapped up by an adoring audience. A special show.
The tiny Junction 2 venue in Cambridge must hold around 200-300 people and ‘hats off’ to Athlete for sticking with that venue after the show sold out and not moving to the bigger Junction venue.
A rather fine,’ The Robot Heart’ commenced proceedings. A four piece with gentle delicate songs not unlike an early Athlete themselves in some respects.
The show itself was, the hits stripped back, which was delightful. We got the standouts from all the records plus more. Vehicles&Animals, El Salvador, Tourist, Wires and a full electric Rubik's Cube to round up the set almost 2 hours later.
Carey Willetts, Bass Stephen Roberts drums and Tim Wanstall, keyboards and omnichord all seemed to be having a great time and in the end Joel said that “it was great to be part of something different”
Like an old jumper you have not worn for years and when you try it on again, it fits. That's how the evening felt, perhaps, a band whose records are seldom played, back to remind us how good the songs actually are! Hats off indeed.