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Tuesday 31 May 2011

Rock Music (Literally)

To the Queen Elizabeth Hall last night for an excellent double-header: Mike Heron, who regular readers may know is one of my all-time heroes, and Trembling Bells, one of my favourite bands of the last few years. And very good it was too.

Mike was his usual endearing but slightly shambolic self. The moment where he was retuning oblivious to what else was going on, then suddenly looked up and went "Oh, I think they might have started" pretty much summed it up.

That happened at the beginning - or, rather, shortly after the beginning - of "Spirit Beautiful", one of two songs on which he was backed by the Bells as well as his band (the other being "Feast of Stephen"). They were both excellent, and among the highlights of the evening.

But the biggest hippie freak-out moment came when Trembling Bells did "Otley Rock Oracle", from their most recent album "The Constant Pageant". The studio version is pretty freaky, as you can hear below, but this was something else. The band went at it full tilt backed by a horn section, an accordion player, a mate of Arthur Brown's on theramin and three female morris dancers brandishing papier mache heads on sticks. It was an audiovisual delight worthy of the Incredible String Band themselves. The lady morris dancers appear as a blur in this photo that Mr F took that I can't work out how to transfer from Flickr (the old boy took some good photos so you might want to look at the rest of them as well).

"Otley Rock Oracle" - Trembling Bells

The Otley Rock mentioned in the title is The Chevin, which looms above Otley in Yorkshire. If you head north-west through the Yorkshire Dales for roughly fifty miles you come to Swarth Fell.

"Swarthfell Rocks" - The Watersons

Let's round things off with some more rock-related tunes.

"Rock In The Sea" - Shocking Blue

"Rocky Top" - The Osborne Brothers

"Spinning On That Rock" - Ramsey Midwood

"The Rocks Remain" - Horslips

And if you head due South from Rocky Top, this is where you end up.


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