Review: In Dreams: David Lynch Revisited @ Colston Hall
In Dreams: David Lynch Revisited
Colston Hall, Bristol
Thursday 19th November 2015
My usual winter to trip to Bristol never happened last year. In finding out about this event, the hellfire inside of me, made certain I was not to miss it. Last time I was at Colston Hall it was a different venture with the Benjamin Britten centenary celebrations, some two years ago. One concert was over shadowed with mostly better music by Shostakovich, the over the incredibly moving War Requiem. So now, I was to return to the city of Banksy, bridges and Brunel...
It goes without saying that I'm a huge David Lynch fan, who is by far one of my favourite film makers. Whether its disturbing his audience with explicit content, baffling us with zany snap shots of small town Americana or moving us to breaking point, his cinema is of a remarkable quality you don't forget in a hurry. With this catalogue, comes a musical backlog that is just as revered as the films themselves. In the sound engineering and the scores/songs, you know your ears are in for a sonic journey. Listen in and listen hard, as these dream like fanstasies present themselves in front you, like an apparition...
This concert picked some of the mightiest and most recognisable pieces from his oeuvre . The evening opened with a musician sawing on a tree trunk (Lynch always pays homage to his tree surgeon father this way), and then began by actually playing the saw for the main theme from The Elephant Man by John Morris. As expected a large chunk of the billing was music by Angelo Balementi, who has composed most of Lynch's film. Laura Palma's Theme from Twin Peaks played on the harp was exquisite and the ending theme from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me was a soaring melody for keyboard.
The vivacious Julie Cruise who sang in both Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, had a few of her numbers heard. I didn't get to hear The Nightingale or The World Spins (my faves), however renditions of Into the Night, Mysteries of Love and Falling (Twin Peaks Main Theme) we're satisfying, with the famous abrupt crescendo in the former, making the audience assume it was over, only for another verse to come. Some singers were better than others (some of it I wouldn't even define as singing) but the excellent band and brilliant lighting (with expected deep reds and blues) all added to the Lynchian atmosphere. Even a surprise with Thomas Bloch on the Ondes Martenot and Cristal Baschet - adding stupendous textures to the overall feel of the mood in the music.
There were s few pieces I didn't recognise (a guitar solo from The Straight Story would have also cleansed the palette). I'm guessing these were probably from Dune (I've yet to watch and doubt I will), Wild at Heart (I watched years ago) and Lost Highway (I'm about to watch) or perhaps some of Lynch's more recently bizarre songbooks. Having Strange, What Love Does from Inland Empire was nice, but I would have much rather heard the exquisite Polish Poem by sublime singer Chrysta Bell, from the same film. I guess there's a lot of "heard this, wanted to hear that, heard that and happy to hear that" that diehard fans like me, talk like.
The recognisable title song from Blue Velvet was horrendously interpreted by screeching guitar solos, leading on to a blatantly 80s song I don't recall the name of. This was funny, but I do feel a song as seductive and luxurious as this, should have the breathing space not to be bothered by the coming track. Nods to the eternal Roy Orbison with his In Dreams and Crying, sung acapella in the Spanish (Llorando) went down very well in the hall, as we cooed and murmured at the high nostalgia value of The Big O [Roy Orbison's nickname]. The large list of singers Stuart Staples, Jehnny Beth, Conor O'Brian, Mick Harvey, Stealing Ship all did justice to the songs, in their own originally weird and wacky ways.
This concert may have been a Hipster convention (something I am most certainly not), but to head to Bristol and hear it live was a delight. This would have gone down a treat in Saint David's Hall in Cardiff, or perhaps a more intimate venue would suffice, if it weren't for the large array of instruments on stage. As for the rest of the tour, France was calling and Lynch responded...
As for recommendations with his films, start anywhere. Just go in with an open mind. Most of his films have a translucent logic comparable to a dreams. You will be shocked, moved and totally baffled.
The perfect concert.
Rating: 5 stars
Twin Peaks will return to your TV screen in 2017...
Picture credit: Colston Hall Website