Touring, Travelling and All That Jazz


Welsh sky

I had one of those lie-ins this morning. It’s not something I do much these days. I like being up and into the day but this morning I was dead to the world and when I did wake up I had no idea where I was, what day it was or who I was – well, that’s a small exaggeration but I like the power of three. Once I’d re-calibrated myself and found the coffee the world began to resettle and assemble itself in a manageable order. I tuned out the news, it’s all bad, and thought about the past few days, with no small sense of wonder.

At the weekend we went to Llandudno. Primarily this was for a gig with the marvellous Alan Barnes Octet.  The festival had a magical vibe to it. Quirky, welcoming and brim full of exciting and varied jazz, it was a treat for the ears. The beautiful setting, the sea, mountains and sky made it a treat for the soul. The gig itself was wonderful – it always is. The music gets more exciting the more I hear it and I seem to find new paths through the poems each time I perform them. Performing with the octet is exhilarating and I feel full immersion in the experience each time. There are particular phrases in the music that have a visceral effect on me and seem to reach into my words to draw out nuances and meanings that I didn’t know were there when I was writing.

Early evening sunshine in Llandudno


We returned home very briefly on Monday to repack the bag and then headed off to that London for the theatre; The Old Vic.

Girl From The North Country is a brand new play by Conor McPherson based around the music of Bob Dylan and set in the Great Depression in 1934.  I was nervous about it because I wanted to like it so badly and I knew reviews were mixed – I had only read one in advance which was positive and I put it out of my head so as to receive the production freshly. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the theatre and a long time since I’ve seen anything brand new. Loving Dylan as I do, I was praying that the music wouldn’t be cringe-worthy, belted out musical theatre renditions of the ‘greatest hits.’  I love musical theatre but have an aversion to jukebox musicals.

I was transported, taken out of the world for a few short hours. Rarely do I finish watching a show and want to see it again immediately but I could have sat through it again, and again, and again. It is delicate, beautiful, sad beyond words and utterly human. See it if you can.

Yesterday we got caught in the rain and didn’t care. We were both light and full of the treasures of the previous days. The best human suggested we wander and wonder without a plan. The downside of this was a light lunch that required a bank loan. The upside was stumbling into Tate Modern and finding Janet Cardiff’s Forty Part Motet sound installation. The best human had already experienced it in Liverpool and had wanted to share it with me and so finding this little gift from the universe was doubly wondrous as he had no idea it had moved to London.  Using Thomas Tallis’ Spem In Alium, the sound installation features 40 speakers, each one playing a separate voice from the forty strong choir. The experience of hearing it in a darkened room is eerie and intensely beautiful.

Holidays must end as you know sang Natalie Merchant in her beautiful song Verdi Cries. I always hear her singing that song in my head as I come home after time elsewhere. It’s in the back of my head now as I write. Homecoming is fine, it has to be. We got home to high winds and a feeling of madness in the air. Still, it’s never dull.

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