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Anthony Joseph, "Vaidila" Theater Vilnius, Sept.29

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    Posted: 30 Sep 2019 at 1:39am
Vaizdo rezultatas pagal užklausą „anthony joseph in Lithuania poster“

Autumn came too early this year with grey sky and some rainy days in row. Sunday night with Caribbean rooted band promised  short just finished summer's renaissance and it partially was.

Trinidad-born London based poet and artist Anthony Joseph with his Spasm Band came for a short series of three concerts to Lithuania for the first time and after two nights in Kaunas and seaside resort town of Palanga, yesterday he played in the heart of Vilnius. It was a great band in a strange place I can say.

 Already a few month ago I noticed the adverts of upcoming Joseph tour and was intrigued - on the wave of burgeoning London's jazz scene with deep influence of spiritual jazz and Caribbean music, Anthony Joseph's concert looked like an attractive chance to see some part of it live. The place of announced gig in Vilnius looked a bit strange though - 19 century neo-gothical building with 400 seats neoclassical hall with parquet floor, white columns with golden decorations are better known in town by their use for chamber classic music concerts, semi-pro theaters plays and "celebrities" weddings.

Since there was announced that Anthony comes with his "Spasm Band" which in big part was responsible for his "Caribbean Roots" album with its heavy funky and electric sound (differently from his much more relaxed last album "People Of The Sun"), the choice of place looked a bit strange.

It was same strange for band as well, during the gig Anthony more than once mentioned that they are usually playing for people staying/dancing near the scene, not siting in museum's sterility breathing hall.

Than the sound - again and again I wonder if we don't have experienced sound technicians anymore. Technical problems and unskilled sound mix almost destroyed one of my last watched gigs last  summer in Poland (Lucky Peterson concert in Suwalki Blues Fest), this time it wasn't so bad but the band started with too loud for the space sound with dominating lows when drums almost blew out  the hall windows and drowned reeds and most important - Anthony's voice. He is always presented as poet, not singer, and how does it work if listeners in the hall can't properly hear the lyrics?

The chamber hall with good acoustics was far not the best choice for the band with heavy electric sound (electric bass,electric wah wah guitar, mics set on drums, mics for sax,etc,etc). After few first songs when on some peak moments sensitive listeners were in serious danger of their ears damage and some intensive articulation from artists during songs showing to sound engineer what he must change right now, we here in a hall at last got more or less acceptable result - it was still difficult to hear all details of lyrics (that's a pity) and sax sounded often not enough loud in a mix, but at least it the danger to damage your ears has come.

Now - about good things. The band was really great with raw, groovy sound you can't often hear around and very authentic atmosphere of small club, or probably - the garage. Obviously too electric,too heavy, too groovy and too loud for a chamber hall, they sounded excellent for sweaty dancing night in student club or small open air scene. Anthony is a charismatic frontman radiating artistry and energy at the same time. Reeds and occasional keys player Jason Yarde (of Jazz Jamaica All Stars) was an another key figure on scene filling the music with ecstatic straight sax solos and occasional simultaneous playing  sax and oboe(?). Drummer Olubitan was a true god of thunder, percussionist Richard Baker received lot of sympathies from public for his congas soloing, and French guitarist Thibaut Remi demonstrated lot of experience with his wah wah guitar (electric bassist Andrew John because of unknown reason has been presented as "electric guitarist" in an advertising).

Musical program has been based predominantly on "Caribbean Roots" material with few more lyrical and acoustic additions from "People Of The Sun". The hall was almost full but the public was same strange as the space was - from first year University girls-students (counting third week in town for the first time in their lives) to young families with small children (them fortunately spent the time jumping and playing with each other right in front of the scene so there were no real troubles with them) to occasional small groups of people in their fifties or sixties who obviously didn't know what expect from the gig, to renown domestic folk-rock musician,etc. It was obviously that the organizers worked hard trying to fill the space but it was hardly all those people who could really enjoy the music. The tickets were really overpriced (with few waves of discounts when it became obvious that otherwise the hall will stay half-empty).

In general I really enjoyed the night - because of artists on scene mostly. It was a GREAT BAND IN A STRANGE PLACE.

Edited by snobb - 30 Sep 2019 at 1:42am
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