Wednesday 23 September 2009

Music Go Music at Institute of Contemporary Arts, 22 September 2009

Music Go Music (Image with kind permission of The Music Fix)

When you think of Saturday night television back in the Seventies, it is usual to reminisce about Morecombe and Wise, The Two Ronnies, Mike Yarwood and the rest. You remember the sketches with nostalgia. But there was another facet of these shows – that moment when the hosts went for a lie down or a bottle of whisky and the special guests came on. These tended to be ‘middle of the road’ acts such as Clodagh Rodgers or The New Seekers and they often played the same slot every week. It was an innocent time of big hair, brilliant smiles and songs about kittens.

...Meanwhile, in 2009, Meredith and David Metcalf from ace Californian outfit Bodies of Water have had an idea…

…There is a wash of dry ice across the ICA stage. There is a backdrop of twinkling stars. There are indeterminate shapes on the stage that are revealed to be an enormous harlequin mask and a giant hourglass with ‘Time’ written upon it.

The band come onto the stage and it is as though we are back watching a soft-focus video of that golden age of light entertainment. The guys all have hair that is so long and bouffant that they are practically treading on it, the girls are all blonde and feather-cut like Farrah Fawcett-Majors. This is Music Go Music and this is an evening of retro-magic.

They are fronted by the beaming, nervous figure of ‘Gala Bell’, who has one of the strongest and clearest voices in all pop music. The power that she generates is quite something, particularly as it seems to be mostly effortless, the notes never wavering no matter how loud she sings. From certain angles she looks a bit like Meredith Metcalf...

The set closely matches the running order of the new album ‘Expressions’ and starts with the Pink Floyd ‘Great Gig In The Sky’ wails of “I Stand Alone”. The sound in the venue is initially all over the place, probably because the engineer is flummoxed by a seven piece band, most of whom seem to be singing at full belt like this was the closing number of a West End musical.

However, things soon get properly on track with ‘Light Of Love’, merely the first of a number of songs that don’t just reference ABBA but which are so good that somewhere Meryl Streep is climbing into her dungarees in order to sing them in a musical.

The usual ICA audience is as fashion conscious and circumspect as hell, but faced with this onslaught (and MGM genuinely ROCK) they wave, clap and stamp along. These songs are utterly preposterous, so over the top that there can be no resistance. The sheer gleeful euphoria is overwhelming. ‘Gala’ is enjoying herself so much that most of the time between songs is spent in fits of giggles.

There isn’t a weak song in the set, nor any moment when the illusion slips. During the chorus of ‘Explorers of the Heart’ I find that tears of joy are misting my glasses up.

It’s not all ABBA though. The epic ten-minute single ‘Warm In The Shadows’ is a pure Studio 54 disco stomper that is built upon the bass line throb of Blondie’s ‘Atomic’. The only thing missing is a glitterball.

The show ends with The Carpenters-esque ballad “Goodbye Everybody”. Like everything else tonight, it is perfectly judged.

I absolutely loved this show. This makes the Seventies look so good, that you wonder why we got rid of them.

1 comment:

Keith Knight said...

Now this I am envious of and it was only a prior commitment elsewhere that prevented my attendance. Must be seen - can these Bodies of Water people do anything?