Penquin Cafe. Colston Hall, Bristol.
Less of a band, more of a collective, known for soundtracks/ambient music. Main Hall of a venue I’ve visited a fair few times over the past few months.
Penquin Cafe were the headliners, part of Erased Tapes is Ten, a short season of gigs celebrating the label. I missed the 1st act entirely, managed to catch the last 2 songs of the next but made it for all of Daniel Brandt and Penquin Cafe.
In a brilliant use of space, Daniel Brandt were in the foyer, so the audience had to ship up and move out to go see them play. This could have been annoying, but it worked really well. I’d never heard of Daniel and his band, and standing straddling the stairs to see them made for a unique and back ache inducing experience. Janine and I headed off the stairs to the side of the performance area, where we had a lot more space and from this vantage point I could see most of the audience as well as clear view of the band. If you add amazing drumming to a jazz trombone and a guitar with the most impressive set of effects peddles I’ve ever seen up close, you get Daniel Brandt & band. Heavy, industrial sounds that yet made me dance. It was a wonderful surprise. They were superb.
Then we headed back into the main hall for Penquin Cafe. Oh what a treat that was. A dozen talented musicians, playing a weird and wonderful assortment of instruments (a plastic case of chime bars, harmonium, assorted percussion and more) to create noises that ranged in style from ragtime jazz to South American beats. They played tracks from Penquin Cafe Orchestra, covers of electronic music (synthesisers replaced with wooden instruments – it was fabulous), original pieces, reworkings of a Cole Porter ballet using skill and flair and humour to tell short stories and make us all smile.
It was joyous. It was creative, witty and beautiful and I loved it.
Thank you Erased Tapes for signing and sharing such a unique set of artists, thank you Colston Hall for staging another brilliant gig and thank you Penquin Cafe for making me smile. As long as we have music.
31 down. 9 to go.