Devizes Arts Festival mesmerised by Evelyn Glennie. Concert review by Gail Foster for the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald.
Dame Evelyn Glennie is talking to me about listening.
Devizes Arts Festival have brought some quality acts to Devizes over the years, but to me this really takes the biscuit. Before I came out I listened to her leading a thousand drummers in a collaboration with Underworld at the Olympic Opening Ceremony in 2012. This is the image I have in my head of Evelyn, as some wild goddess with drumsticks raised, summoning awesomeness.
There’s nothing grand about her. She’s quiet, and dignified, and intense. She unloads her own marimba, a glorious enormous church organ of a xylophone, and the band and sound guys help her unload her drums.
She laughs when I tell her about my awe and is happy to answer my questions. This is her fourth gig with Trio HLK, and she’s excited about it. Trio HLK are an innovative ensemble comprised of Richard Harrold, keyboards, Richard Kass, drums and percussion, and Ant Law, electric guitar. They’re a pleasant bunch of blokes. “So talented” says Evelyn, “so creative, and shy”.
The instruments are waiting.
When it comes to words for sound and defining musical genres I am lost. No one seems able to tell me exactly what kind of jazz is being played. It’s a mystery. I’m transported from the minute Trio HLK take the stage. “It’s all about them, really” says Evelyn. She’s enjoying working with them, developing the music together, seeing what happens.
“It’s far too early to categorise it as jazz,” she says.
Out of the silence comes sound. Gentle, interlocking, broken and unbroken melodies, ‘refracted through our prism’ say Trio HLK. How they concentrate on one another as they play. And then Evelyn comes on. With the exception of her stunning solo on the halo drum, it quickly becomes clear that Evelyn is just one of the band. It’s all about the collaboration, this. Therefore anyone expecting The Evelyn Glennie show is disappointed.
And anyone expecting a night of the kind of music never before heard in these parts is delighted. It’s moving. I cry a bit. It’s strange.
Evelyn and the guys come out at the end to sign the album Standard Time and talk affably with the public. And the verdict of the Festival audience? Some people loved it all. Most people loved some of it. A few people loved it not at all. The serious jazz officianados and poetic types in the audience are blown away.