Oli Freke

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Filtering by Tag: The Barbican

Fuck Buttons - Barbican Review 25/04/2014

Saw the Buttons of Fuck last Friday at the Barbican. Very fine indeed - first gig I've seen of theirs and I'd happily see 'em again.

Using the tactics of minimalism they deployed huge blocks of sound endlessly churning over. Despite the repetition it never settled down to a boring groove; the looping segments always yearning for something intangible and always starting afresh with a renewed urgency.

I've never seen an electronic act really give the Barbican Hall an atmosphere, but these guys managed it. Even thought it looked absurd in a seated auditorium, about a quarter of the circle rose to their feet and swayed / grooved to the physicality of the sound.

The simple device of projecting their silhouettes on the screen and overlaying it with various psychodelic nonsense also added up to the overall hypnotic effect.

I loved 'em.

Supporting were Mount Kimbie, who I wasn't so impressed by. All the faff with a metallic (noisy) parachute above the stage and 1960's era Pink Floyd reflected water ripples didn't seem to warrant the effort of 15 (count 'em) stage hands to dissassemble the mess. And various other musicians trooping on and off stage during the gig didn't seem to add much to the generally muddy, bass heavy sound.

And don't get me started on the self-regarding be-hatted photographer who posed around the place 'doing art'.

After the gig were noisy noise merchants Fenesz, who seemed quite good, but my chums & I wanted to have a conversation so we hid round the corner where we could hear ourselves speak.

Top evening all round, and top marks to http://bleep.com/ for organising it.

Baroque and Roll (sorry..)

Quick debrief of Monday’s concert at The Barbican with some pictures. We sang stuff like Handel's Zadok the Priest and other of his coronation pieces. Pretty spectacular pieces sung in a pretty spectacular location. 

Orchestra, adult choir and children’s choir on stage


Big, huh?

Here’s Howard Goodall introducing it all


Howard Goodall (Blackadder, Red Dwarf, etc) is the National Ambassador for Singing, tasked with getting children involved in music and singing in schools. So far he has 15,000 of the 20,000 schools in the UK signed up to the scheme. This is a Good Thing. Listening to music is ok and quite pleasant on the whole, but actually doing it – making and creating music, singing especially – is one of the most uplifting things a human being can do. A fact that is largely forgotten in the ubiqutous immersive soundworld of ipods and tv that we now find ourselves in.

Basses and Altos and Orchestra


I am in the block of basses; seven trillion pounds to the first person who spots me.

Sophie Junker, soprano and Philip Canner, bass-baritone


As well as doing five pieces by Handel, there was a specially composed piece by Harvey Brough, which took themes of Purcell and created a new setting for The Fairy Dream section of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Sophie & Philip above were Titania and Bottom. Both were very good (as were the other two soloists who were recent graduates of the Guildhall School of Music), but did I detect a bit of star quality with Sophie?? You heard it here first.



As mentioned the real purpose of the project is to get schoolchildren interested and participating in music, and here is part of the 150 strong choir of children. They were all from innercity schools – paired with the city firms who made up the adult choir – and were excellent. The piece of music Harvey wrote for them wasn’t patronising or ‘easy’, it was a proper piece of music in which they played a key role. And they sung it brilliantly. Props to the kids!

Nicholas Kenyon


Nicholas Kenyon runs ting’s round there at the Barbican. Here he is at the end of the concert saying how splendid it all was and how important the project is, and how the Barbican and the Guildhall are proud to be supporting it.

Too right. The whole thing was a big success – musically I think the massed amateur choirs of us and the kids got away with it, the orchestra played brilliantly, the music was varied and interesting, and a large number of children who hadn’t even been to a classical concert before got to perform at a professional level in one of London’s Premier venues.

Win, win, win, win.

It’s just a pity the world can’t be a bit more like this more of the time.

Richard Frostick – conductor
Richard was great: someone with a true passion for music and the ability to communicate that passion – oh, and to control 300 singers and an orchestra to great effect!


Just don’t get your notes wrong, ok?