Sound Power

Sounds ripping up and out from the back of his throat; soaring, rolling around the music, gutsy, powerful, textural, filling the auditorium and carrying all with him. Tuesday night: Bridgewater Hall, Manchester and Van Morrison turning us inside out with his voice. From ‘Astral Weeks’ days to now, VM has been an-all-time-ever favourite, not with everything, but consistently throwing out magic – so exciting to at last hear him live. Moondance – a classic for so many of us; and on this night, the gestural abstract of his voice dancing through the tight, together canvas of his band. Captivating jazz rifts somewhere in the middle, just left us wanting more…. Currently less keen on the country album but ‘Gypsy in my Soul’ from Magic Time sends me somewhere else whenever I play it. Why is that? I know it will be different music for different people ‐ but music – I’m sure ‐ has the ability to have that effect on any of us. The power of music to evoke time, place, memory, an era, an event, a feeling – points in our lives are totally associated with music. The lilting, seductive sax intro to ‘Did Ye Get Healed’ from Poetic Champions Compose will forever be associated in my memory with travelling through Australia in an old VW campervan in ‘87/88. It was virtually the only tape we had to play in a rather decrepit player. I’ll remember sleeping under the stars and picking wild, huge blackberries in the middle of nowhere and eating them for breakfast, or returning shattered from the multi day walk into Frenchman’s Cap, Tasmania and watching blood engorged leaches flop onto the ground as I peeled off sodden trousers. One of the more dubious consequences of having teenage offspring is that you wake one morning to find that every radio in the house (and car) has suddenly been retuned from the comfort zone of Radio 4 to Radio 1. The upside of this is that some weeks ago I got to hear ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley. I love the rhythmic beat and easy fluidity of his voice. Response is not intellectual or premeditated. Each time it comes on, a huge smile starts somewhere deep down and bubbles up until dancing is the only option ‐ if driving, the volume goes through the roof. It’s not a choice – something decided externally. It happens to me. And it strikes me that this is when creativity is truly at its best. As I said in Nuno Moon ‐ when its felt in the gut…. Film, poetry. music, drama, visual arts… they all have the capacity to make us respond involuntarily ‐ to make us sing from the inside out. Imagine making sounds that have such an ability to inspire. So, what’s going on? Why is it felt in the solar plexus not the brain? What is it that makes us respond to one thing and not another? What is this powerful magic? And will I still be shimmying across the room to Gnarls when I’m 90?… Wicked thought.


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