Something came up earlier this week that brought to mind Sigur Rós. I forget exactly what it was, but whatever it was led to me re-exploring their most recent album, Valtari. It has a different feel than some of their more recent works, something that reminds me of a film score (a function that their music would do well in). Of course, this is not to say that they have reigned in their tendency towards songs of an epic scale. But good music, like people, inevitably must allow for individual growth of the musicians who write the music. Irregardless, there is some really good music on Valtari, worthy of our attention. So we started tonight’s show with Varúð (trans: “Caution”), Rembihnútur (“Tight Knot”), and Dauðalogn (“Dead Calm”). We then heard some material from their 2011 live release Inni: Svefn-g-englar (“Sleepwalkers”), Glósóli (“Glowing sole”), and Ný batterí (“New Batteries”).
We then continued in the live music vein with some live Jethro Tull. Just a few years ago, they put out an excellent recording of their 1970 Isle of Wight Festival appearance (“Nothing is Easy: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970“), with a matching dvd also available (actually, I think it is the other way around – the cd is the companion to the dvd). From that live recording, we heard My Sunday Feeling, My God (an early rendition that preceded its recording for the Aqualung album), and With You There To Help Me.
Continuing with the live music, we next heard from Charles Mingus. Even with his many excellent recordings, one had to hear him perform live in order to grasp the fullest depth of his music. Truly, the live stage was the place where the underlying passion of his music came out best. He expected a lot out of his musicians, and when they didn’t live up to his expectations, he at times would literally chase them off the stage. Happily, we are blessed with a number of fine live recordings, several of which included the great saxophonist Eric Dolphy, possibly Mingus’ greatest musical partner. So, from Mingus at Antibes (a 1960 recording that was originally issued in 1976, with a lineup that consisted of Dolphy, trumpter Ted Curson, Booker Ervin on tenor, and his regular drummer Dannie Richmond; this was probably one of his better lineups), we heard Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting, Prayer for Passive Resistance, and What Love.
Oddly enough, for a show with such an emphasis on live performance, our closing set started with a studio recording from Neil Young, whose reputation for stage excellence is unsurpassed (unfortunately, I found myself dealing with time constraints). So we heard a song that I’d been wanting to play for a few weeks anyway, The Loner (I had brought a live version, but said time constraints would not allow it), then closed the show with his classic The Needle and the Damage Done.