Henry Cow meets Classical Chick 25Nov2005
Katia Labeque Band with Fred Frith and Victoria Mullova
Queen Elizabeth Hall
When Katie and Marielle Labeque, found popular success with their showy Gershwin Piano Duets, the musical establishment may well have got a little sniffy. It was thought that their success may well have had something to do with the classical chic chick gimmick, rather than their musical credentials. The Labeque sisters may well have subsequently inspired other more popularising classical formations of girlie fiddle players in short skirts for example. And for gender balance purposes lets throw in Nigel Kennedy and his attention seeking blokishness.
Mrs Monk booked this event at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, but did so intuitively on the strength of Fred Frith who was also on the bill, and of whom she had heard, because of my interest in the great man.
I had nothing to do with this booking, and I was confused because I could not see any connection between Fred and the Classical Chick legend.
We settled into our seats and soon realised that Katia had surrounded herself with an impressive avant-garde band including Fred making improbable guitar noises, Marque Gilmore, Drums and percussion, Victoria Mullava, Violin, and Dave Maric, Keyboards and electronica. The audience may well have been expecting more Gershwin from Katia, and certainly the people around us did not respond well to this unexpected noise but this was precisely the kind of stuff, I listen to every day. Mrs Monk was not so happy, but did enjoy watching old Fred of Henry Cow fame, find original ways to play his Electric Guitars. He would dangle a chain over the strings and then beat the guitar with drum sticks and play with his peddles in his bare feet.
I was spellbound but the man in front thought he was “shit” and refused to applaud after each number. I applauded louder behind his back to make up for his antipathy and also to annoy him, and celebrate my hero.
Katia’s piano was strangely insubstantial amongst all the percussion and electronic noises. But a fine concert nevertheless, but a little short at an hour and a half.