Poppy Ackroyd – Colston Hall Foyer, Bristol

Wednesday 13th February, 2019

When this one came up in the listings I was excited, Poppy is a composer whose work I admire and to get to see her live was something I was very much looking forward to.

The first person I saw when I got into Colston Hall was Jeff, so I knew I would feel comfortable and enjoy myself. There aren’t many people who understand just what music means to me, but he is one of them. He shares the enthusiasm and passion for live music.We bump into each other at gigs, but also at bus stops and in Tesco’s as we are neighbours!

The stage was a lot lower this evening and the seats were further back (thank you for listening CH) which also helped, it felt a lot more relaxed and intimate to not be staring straight up.

Support came from Ocean Floor, playing modulated synths (thanks Jeff, I’ve never known what to call the boxes with wires on before!). A shy performer who just wanted to present his music. Which was a little dark and slightly disturbing. If it sounded like a dream, it wasn’t a particularly pleasant one. There were sounds reminiscent of car alarms or street bustle, as if they were interrupting the flow of the dream.

Poppy. What do I say about Poppy. Sometimes I need to write these blog posts quickly, near the time of the gig, to help me process and sometimes I need to take a step back to think, to ponder, to allow words to accumulate in my brain. I felt torn as whether to write this last night or today. Ideally I would be waiting even longer I think, but I have another gig tonight and the memory gets muddled nowadays.

A piano, a very cool looking violin and loop pedal are all Poppy needs to create stunning aural landscapes. She plays along to dreamlike background visuals, which perfectly compliment each piece. All acoustic sounds, with some technology helping, but the rich, warm textures you can only get from real instruments spill out into your ears, overlaid and dubbed, yes, but all from original source. It’s fabulous. Gentle, delicate, gliding sounds that imbibed me with a deep sense of calm. Towards the end I felt like I was gently floating, suspended in warmth, as if in some sort of beautiful state of musical stasis.

Timeless, Feathers, Luna, Trains, Rain – all titles of the tracks Poppy played and yes each piece was as evocative as you would want it to be. Rising up, flowing down, ebbing and waning like lunar tides.

Jeff was sketching during the gig and we talked about how art, drawing and photography are ways of seeing, ways of connecting. We also talked about art as a response to and a way of healing from trauma. This whole ridiculous musical adventure began as that and has grown into the most beautiful and wonderful thing. I would never have found myself sitting at Poppy’s feet as it were 3 years ago and my life would be all the poorer for it. Music takes you to places nothing else can. Poppy’s music is among the finest at becalming my overactive mind, taking me to a place of incandescent joy.

Thank you, Poppy and do please come back and play in Bristol again soon.


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