Last year I went to concert with my son that was an Artist he had recommended to me. I wrote about it here https://stellabranch.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/me-my-son-and-mr-olafur-arnalds/
So when he suggested that we go and see another of his favourites, I thought it couldn’t hurt so we bought the tickets. The only thing I knew about this Artist was that he is a piano player and my son had the opportunity to play one of his pieces at a private launch party of his Sheet Music book and I loved that piece which I got to hear him practice. You can see a video of my son playing here. Dan Branch playing Familiar by Nils Frahm
So last night we went along to the Roundhouse in London, and our tickets were standing so we made our way to the front. We were only about 8 ft from the piano and set up of the technology for his set, so my son was very interested to see it all.
The support band were called Dawn of Midi. A drummer, a double bass player and a pianist came onto the stage and the Bass player, who appeared to be the leader, said “If you don’t understand this, close your eyes because this is what we do” Now my son and I had seen this guy in the foyer having a contretemps with a Security Guard who had stopped him and he’d said “But I’m a performer!” Diva or what!
They started to play…well, I say play…each instrument made a pattern of notes, all different time signatures from each other…it’s not what I’d call music…too Avant Garde for me. My son looked at me nervously because he didn’t want me to be disappointed. They carried on for about 20 mins…lets just say this is not a CD I’d be buying anytime soon. My son said it was minimalism…I think it was tosh!
The name of the show was Nils Frahm Has Lost His Mind, so my son was very happily anticipating what to expect. The man of the evening came onto the stage without any fanfare, started a beat going on one of the pieces of equipment and went off again to take his cardigan off. We could see him dancing at the back of the stage. Then he came on properly, a smiling slight, German guy wearing jeans and a grey t-shirt- but very funky socks and no shoes. He sat at the Grand Piano and played a beautiful piece of Music that would not be out of place at a classical Concert at the Albert Hall. Then he started different rhythms and the stage was filled with what sounded like a complete Orchestra, and a Choir and a dozen musicians playing Pan Pipes…all conducted by this one person in the middle of the stage.
To one side of the stage there was a piano that he had had especially commissioned. It was an upright, but had no outsides…a naked piano…you could see all the strings and dampers and at one point he was sat on the floor plucking the strings under the keyboard…it sounded almost bell-like, clear and golden. A bit how I imagine Tinkerbell should sound.
This wasn’t the modern classical I was expecting, but it was Orchestral in quality…there were influences from Tubular Bells, Daft Punk, Rick Wakeman, Jean-Michel Jarre and as he was conducting all of the sounds, he was almost balletic in his movements. We rarely saw his face as he had his back to us almost all the way through, but it was not a problem as the music was the star. There was no flashy light show either, only spotlights on him as he was moving around. My son had the biggest grin on his face watching him, and we even got to have a bit of a boogie, despite not recognising much of the music. For his encore, Nils used 2 loo brushes ( yes you read that right) to play the strings of the Grand Piano…fabulous!
In short, it was a wonderful evening, and it got even better as he came out to the Merch stand afterwards and chatted to his fans and signed their purchases. He even remembered that my son had met him at the launch mentioned at the beginning of this post. He was delightful. My son is totally inspired by him and is galvanised into writing more music. I’m glad he has such a positive role model.
The only downside? I’m possibly a bit old for moshing…my legs did ache at the end of the night!