LIVE: Between the Lines X Erased Tapes
I’d forgotten how to watch music. I think most of us had. There was an awkward sense of impropriety as the socially-distanced spectators all filed into King’s Place for Erased Tapes’ triple bill last Wednesday. Heads bowed, masks on – it felt wrong, like we weren’t supposed to be there.
“Thank you so much for coming, thank you so much for being here with us,” called out one of the organisers, overwhelmed with emotion. “We’re so happy ...” Then darkness fell and the bill began with Hatis Noit, a Japanese ‘vocal artist’ and the extraordinary maverick who made the Guardian’s 'Ones to Watch’ back in January.
Earlier that day, Chancellor Rishi Sunak had implied to the country that musicians may have to retrain and find different jobs, “I can’t pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job they were doing at the start of the pandemic," he said. Watching Noit sing like that, having taught herself a new fusion of Gagako (Japanese classical) and Gregorian chanting, it was impossible to imagine her doing anything else. Using a loop pedal, Noit layered the melodies on top of each other, seeming capable of producing almost any sound out of her mouth, it was captivating.
Next came Daniel Thorne, a saxophonist using the same looped principle. With increasing dexterity, he explored the saxophone’s potential, not buffering once, the sound reverberating off the walls way down under York Way.
The last act was Anne Müller, an experimental cellist from Berlin. By her slot, we’d been sat in our chairs for almost an hour in – no interval – and a strange zen majesty had come upon us. We’d spent so long amongst others, experiencing something communally, all there in the flesh. It’s amazing how music can weave people together. As Müller played, and the cello carried over our heads, I started thinking about the last seven months: how much we’d lost and are still yet to lose. I realised I’d been quietly crying – I don’t think I was the only one.
Last Wednesday Erased Tapes and King’s Place proudly illustrated a point alongside a trickle of other socially distanced venues and acts across Britain. Live music isn’t just important, it’s essential, and we have been starved. We must protect it not just for our underserved musicians, but for ourselves too. We need to defend the viability of music. Every note is a victory.
This year's EFG London Jazz Festival is a fusion of live and streamed performances, dubbed Living in Two Worlds. You can find more information on the billing here.