REVIEW: Ghostpoet @ The Sage
By Matt Marlow on October 3, 2012 in Music
Darth Vader is patrolling the foyer of the Sage Gateshead. Flanked by two Stormtroopers, they pose for photos before continuing on their way. It’s completely unrelated to this evening’s event in hall two but suitably shifts expectations for those here to attend an average gig.
Funded by the Arts Council and orchestrated by both Generator and Northern Film and Media, Space Invasion is a series of collaborations between music and video artists, all of which are being shown tonight in between select live performances.
A serenely understated start sees Meerkat Films video of Paul Smith reinterpreting ‘Essex Kiss’ by poet Lavinia Greenlaw as he breathes folk song life into the words through melody and banjo accompaniment. The setting of Morden Tower is especially evocative of the local music scene our Maximo Park frontman so lovingly supports, as he performs to a small crowd of familiar faces.
Our compére then swiftly introduces us to the first of the night’s live acts: Jethro Foxx and Lulu James. Jethro Foxx and his band are suitably celebratory with infectious groovesome pop coming on like the summery best of Vampire Weekend and the Maccabees. Most affecting, however, is their aching cover of The Specials ‘Too Much, Too Young’, recently recorded and filmed at the nearby Blank Studios for the project.
Lulu James follows in typically dramatic style; white cape draped over black leotard and silver chastity belt whilst a vibraphone accompanist buoys her stellar voice for the opening number. Since the smoky after-hours trip hop of her debut Rope Mirage EP, the newer material showcases more of her pop star potential. Yet she still maintains that haunting edginess that made her such an enticing prospect from day one.
Once the smoke clears, the silver screen lights up again with an abandoned shipyard. Shimmering projections are cast on the soon to be dismantled hull of the HMS Manxman by Novak Collective, whilst Lanterns on the Lake face each other to perform ‘Pallion’ in its immense shadow. Epic, vast and powerfully moving given it’s affectively wake music for a ship!
Similarly mammoth is Raj Pannu’s task of mashing up audio and visuals from classic Old Grey Whistle Test performances. There’s no need for concern though, as his time-warping VJ set culminates in Bill Withers ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ evolving into Can through to Roxy Music and back again to deafening applause.
Apparently too much to handle, however, is the new SBTRKT video. The prize-winning film was deemed too gruesome by the BBC for tonight’s audience, but the making of we’re shown as consolation demonstrates the massive amounts of independent talent out there which is in need of funding.
Closing the night, Ghostpoet has grown in confidence and stature with every visit to our fair city. The debut of his new live band better encompasses his vision with each member wielding their own sound manipulation devices to form a powerfully layered whole. And of course towering above it all, Obaro’s eccentric delivery and masterful wordplay marks him out as an incredibly unique songwriter and performer, with the clutch of new songs aired tonight showing he’s got even more yet to give.
- PREVIEW: Generator’s Space Invasion w/ Ghostpoet @ The Sage