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Youssou N’Dour, Philip Glass, The Kronos Quartet, and Bela Lugosi

Most, but not all of them at one event.

Jamaica and Senegal Make Music

A couple of weeks ago we went to the Barbican to see Youssou N’Dour. In support were an acoustic reggae band called Inna da Yard. They were fabulous fun, and reminded me that I’ve been missing out on reggae since John Peel died.

Youssou and his band were amazing. They had more percussionists on stage than most bands have members (five, counting the drummer), which amused me.

The total number of musicians on stage was about sixteen. Plus they had a couple of amazing dancers.

And the professionals weren’t the only ones dancing on the stage. Several times members of the audience got up and joined in. Yes, a veritable stage invasion in the Barbican. The security people looked vaguely worried; I didn’t know the Barbican even had security.

I won’t try to dance about architecture and describe the music, but let’s just say it was the rockingest gig I’ve been to at that venue.

The Glass Eye

A few days later it was off to the Hackney Empire, where we saw the original 1931 Dracula, with a live soundtrack. Which was composed by Philip Glass, and performed by him, Michael Riesman, and The Kronos Quartet. That’s a pretty stellar lineup from the modern classical world.

I had at first thought that the film was silent, but it isn’t (I think I was confusing it with Nosferatu). Apparently it didn’t originally have a musical soundtrack, though.

While it’s clear that the film is the origin (or an origin) of many horror film clichés, and the story is of course very familiar, I don’t think I had ever seen it before — though I thought I had.

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, though the film volume could have done with being louder, as the music drowned out the dialogue at times. And on a related note, I’m not convinced that the music was always only there to serve the film, as a true soundtrack should be.

But all in all a fascinating night.

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