Review: There will be two wars / Spitalfields Festival

‘There will be 2 wars’ was a treat. Part performance, part panel discussion, part art installation tour. All of it inspired by or grown from the sound of post-Punk bank Fugazi.

Composer Greg Saunier’s compositions used material from one of the band’s albums – The Screw – giving us rich reimaginings to absorb ourselves in. These engaging works celebrated incessant infectious rhythms and angry sounds. Quite a remarkable achievement.

Each of the four solo works – scored for organ, violin, bass clarinet and viola da gamba – possessed an unexpectedly captivating beauty. The intimate studies were performed twice throughout the two hour exploration, first as individual guerilla-like performances interspersed in discussion and talks. The second as a complete suite of works concluding the concert. In both iterations the gritty interior helped underpinned the urgency in Saunier’s often demanding writing – the whole effect was a sort of deconstructed Fugazi reconstituted with solo lines, art, architecture and conversation.

Where this event undoubtedly triumphed was in the care and love taken in curating and structuring the content. Music, conversation and art reinforced one another – an act that deftly removed silos and gave us cheerleaders of the genre a little bit of hope. This music is art and art is enriching.

It was though we were the audience in a late night live TV broadcast just minus any cameras. The vibe was laid back, accommodating and inclusive. Heart rates lowered, attention focussed on what really mattered.

I could see how Spitalfields could, with nerve, capitalise on their style by live streaming events on YouTube. They have the location and they have the artistic drive too.

More than any other event I’ve attended this year I found myself feeling moved. Here I felt as though I had found a new home as an audience member. No one pandered to the desperate need to contextualise the experience. The event followed the natural energies in the space.

Spitalfields Music welcome you with a warm smile whenever you step in a festival venue. Tonight’s event had been given the space to exist and develop and the audience played an equal part in that.

There was a feeling too as though we were all sharing in the joy experienced by the curator Andre de Ridder, artist Mark Titchener, and performers.

All of the usual conventions and preoccupations with staging live performance had been left outside on Shoreditch High Street. The usual clutter had been cleared away, leaving us able to focus on the art.

That this was by design and not by accident meant I felt I connected with the organisers. Thats a highly-prized audience experience.

This is where live performance is at: innovative; fresh; authentic.

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