Hanging in our kitchen are these words.
Something to cling on to as the world outside goes to hell in a handcart. And we love all of the arts in our house – well, most anyway. (Sorry, I don’t get opera.) Also, Mrs. Monkey and I have very different tastes in music. Albeit that I have managed to slip in the occasional gem into her listening. I have to pick my offerings carefully. But it wouldn’t do for us all to dig the same things, man, would it?
I pick my gigs carefully too and it has been known for Fi to be the youngest person in the room but we invariably have left the show with her having enjoyed her new musical experience. Phew.
But it’s not always like that. Two contrasting shows to note:
Years ago we went to see Billy Cobham playing in a school hall near where we lived. I know, I couldn’t believe it either. I promised her something special. She was blown away. In recent times we trundled along to see the wonderful Bill Frisell. As his trio meandered around a classic Beatles improv she turned to me and quietly asked if they’d started. “Can’t you tell what they are playing?” I asked, (A Day in The Life, I think) “No,” she whispered, and deftly lifted my wallet from inside my jacket. “I’ll see you in the wine bar,” she said, and slipped away hunched against embarrassment.
I have a couple of gig buddies whose taste is a little different to mine. They being 10 years or so younger and therefore the 80s are their generational years. However, if I spot a gig and suggest we go, one in particular is always there, proudly, and I say this with modesty (hahaha) saying that “If Al says Let’s go. I go. He has never taken me to a bad gig. Even though I have no idea what I will see.” That was a nice endorsement.
And so, a couple of months ago, with snow forecast, M and I ignored the weather warning and set off to Bristol for Bokanté. I had managed to get tickets at the last minute, only 6 left when I purchased, so was chuffed that I hadn’t missed an opportunity to see a band I had discovered when buying their first album “Strange Circles” in 2017. Who cares about snow. Previous snow warnings that week had failed to come up with the goods. It’s not going to happen.
St.Georges Hall, Bristol is a converted church. Built in the 1820’s by Sir Robert Smirke it is now a compact, intimate, cosy arts venue with great acoustics. (Whatever happened to the Smirkes, I wonder?) Bokanté’s latest album “What Heat” had been on loop play for yonks by this point. It is a feast of tight funk, multi-layered instrumentation, creative arrangements and songs sung in Guadeloupean Creole by the powerful presence of Malika Tirolien. Described as “world music super group” and led by Snarky Puppy leader Michael League this was not to be missed.
We arrived – no snow in sight – taking our seats M turns to me and grins – “What sort of line-up is this? 4 guitarists and 3 drummers ?” – “Wait and see,” I smirked. Of course, Bokanté blew us away. Each song is explained before the band break it out. The music tight as you could dream of and the percussion is often delicate and driving at the same time. High fives all round. Fantastic music for £15.
Thrilled by an evening of superb music we left for home into the dark night. I had held up my reputation as top “Gig Chooser”. The snow was inches deep and falling like a blizzard. It would be a long and nervous ride home, but it’s worth it for great art.