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The Cinematic Orchestra @ Club Soda - August 30th

Posted by Sarah / September 6, 2008

Cinematic OrchestraLast weekend, I went down to Club Soda to see The Cinematic Orchestra. I've been a fan of the Ninja Tune-signed Brits for a while now. I love their albums and really enjoy the various influences that seem to intermingle into their music. Might I add that the visual/photo content of Ma Fleur is absolutely and completely stunning. Though Jazz is clearly the driving force of the band, it's a loungy type of music that, in my opinion, is a new definition of contemporary Jazz that strays far enough from Free/Fusion Jazz to attract a broader audience, yet still free enough not to turn off intellectuals with challenging taste in music. Add that to some electronic influences sprouting out in several places, it's no wonder The Cinematic Orchestra ended up being signed to the notorious progressive-electro label Ninja Tune.

The bassist is really the musician that impresses me the most on the albums. His touch is very organic (the upright bass gives off an interesting and poignant sound to the music) and extremely jazzy. His strikes are strong, precise, and really add a lot to the rhythm section of the band. Maybe the sound man decided that since it was such an important and enjoyable part of the band that more would be better, because the bass was cranked to the point where it made my lungs and brain vibrate. As a professor pointed out in my Rhetoric class earlier this week, more of a good thing does not equal better. Every time the bassist struck a note, I felt a little nauseated by the overwhelming imbalance of the sound. What a shame, but not surprising since most of the great bands I've seen in that venue always suffered from a really bad sound. It's probably the room that gives off bad resonance since I highly doubt that any decent sound-man would do such things on purpose.

Cinematic Orchestra 2I was mostly interested in the energetic performance of the uber-talented drummer. While he may already sound pretty great on the albums, the man really shows what he's made of over the course of his live performances. He was absolutely brilliant. Also extremely worthy of notice is the powerful and gorgeous voice of their lady singer. Though her presence was intermittent,

On the not-so-brilliant side though, I expected to be truly blown away by this band. They use a lot of horns in their music, so I think it was fair to expect at least two or three horn players on stage. I understand that maybe it's a pain to travel as a big band with all the instruments and all, especially overseas... but seriously, so many bands do it. Where were their horn players? In the leading man's computer. In the first song, I was disappointed to see a single sax player playing along pre-recorded horns. He showed what he was made of later on in the show, but my first impression was of being cheated. Pedals exist to make a single horn sound like 15 of them. Why not go for something like that instead of going for the same sounds we hear on the albums? We come to hear something live, so giving us some recorded stuff is not exactly a pill I swallow easily.

As an added bonus, I missed a great part of the show after having a run-in with security about taking photos of the show. Trying to resolve the situation with them only made me miss over 45 minutes of the show, including the part where Patrick Watson joined the band on stage.

They're still a band I admire and love for their groundbreaking music and sound, but their live show left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I still strongly believe that seeing them play an all-live show would be amazing, but perhaps that's not something that's likely to happen on this side of the puddle.

Sneaky photo taking by

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