Neil Campbell with Singers Perri Alleyne-Hughes and Anne Taft, cellist Nicole Collarbone, Roger Gardiner on 8 String bass, Marty Snape playing rhythm guitar and Joey on the drums.
Friday 1st July 2016
Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room
Reviewed by Ritchie Hunter
What sort of music would survive the wreckage of a world disaster?
Amazing! How does he do that? Up and down the scales, making the guitar behave as if more than one instrument is being played; hands moving so fast you can hardly follow the movement.
I remember Neil Campbell playing at the Hub Café in Berry Street and then at a Nerve Magazine launch. I’ve always been ‘gobsmacked’ at his technical skill in doing so many things at the same time. But I must admit that I’ve never quite followed his style of play. It’s always been a bit jazzified for me, too avant garde, or just too clever for my ear. This gig was different, this was special.
I believe that to appreciate music you have to be able to relate what you hear to something you already know. Maybe I’ve grown into this style, or maybe the musicians gathered together on this stage, adding depth to the guitar, taking the strain at times and feeding back their sounds, was the reason I was drawn in to this performance.
Whatever the answer, this gig was a welcome relief from the nasty politics of the world outside. The vision was of a better world, egalitarian where culture and diversity is welcomed, and you could follow this as the resonating sounds went back and forth, and in the references to classical, Eastern and African music.
The set was in three parts, starting with guitar and cello, followed by guitar and accompanying voices – not singing, but harmonisation from deeper in the throat. And then the band joined in!
Some of the music was familiar. Revisiting or reworking of earlier album tracks, but there was an individuality and uniqueness here that related to the intended message.
Meanwhile Neil went off into the clouds, his neck stretched back, eyes shut, head moving from side-to-side with the tempo. What bliss! He was lost in the sound, but still totally aware of the musicians around him. Everyone, it seemed, had the freedom to jam, but remained tight, returning to the tune and repeating the rhythms.
The Music Room of the Philharmonic is a new space, and the acoustics are great. For this event it was laid out in cabaret style. The future line-up is both varied and exciting. It’s a pity that the prices preclude a wider audience.
See Joe Coventry’s review of Neil Campbell’s album eMErgence.