Can you believe that it is almost September? In fact, by the time I actually get around to posting this, it actually WILL be September. How did that happen? Up here in the frozen wastelands of northern England, we are still waiting for summer to start. Or, at least continue. Anyhoo, enough of my thoroughly British whingeing, about the passing of time and the weather, and on to more exciting things. For, the onset of September brings with it the promise of something rather wonderful…..Richard Barbieri is heading oop north at the end of this month, to play his last show of 2017, and it is going to be fantastic. Huzzah!
For those of us who have already bought tickets for the Liverpool show (and more than 3/4 of the tickets have sold, to date) I thought it would be a great opportunity to ask Richard what we can expect from this rather special event. For, this is not any old gig; this final show of 2017, will be played within the Gothic grandeur of the beautiful St Margaret of Antioch church, in the heart of this fine city.
Last week, Richard was kind enough to answer a few probing questions about his live performances, and his plans for the future.
So, without further ado, I give you, Mr Richard Barbieri:
VCC: Over the last 18-months, you have played a number of ‘solo shows’ – starting with the university masterclass in Huddersfield – where you have showcased new material, as well as featuring re-workings of older tracks, from throughout your career. How easy is it to step out onto that stage, on your own, knowing that it is all down to you?
RB: “It’s quite easy and I never ever thought I’d say this……I’ve always been rather quiet, and a little shy, so it surprises me that recently I feel very comfortable being alone on stage and communicating with an audience. Everything before and after the show is more stressful for me, especially all the technical preparation and concerns. There’s so many things to consider on a performance day, including the needs of the musicians with me, so any help I get is really appreciated.”
VCC: You seem to really enjoy these appearances, and having been fortunate enough to witness a number of the recent shows, I know how positively they have been received by the audience. Are there any memorable moments, which stand out to you?
RB: “I try to choose venues or spaces where the audience can concentrate and focus on the performance without distractions. It enables me to play some of the more sparse material – and to hear silence in the musical pauses is amazing for me – having toured with a rock band for so long where subtlety is very hard to achieve. I did really enjoy previewing an early version of “New Found Land” at the chapel in Huddersfield. I thought it sounded good in that environment.”
As someone who was lucky enough to be at that first solo-outing, in Huddersfield, I can only agree with Richard; hearing snippets of the new music, in such a beautiful setting (albeit, on a wet January afternoon) was a wonderful experience, and only whetted my appetite for what was to follow.
RB: “The “comedy” and more lighthearted moments come with the recent Q & A sessions, and at the last show in Birmingham a member of the audience was very concerned as to whether I was happy in myself, and what pension provisions I had made. Possibly he was hoping I would fall into a teary rant about the music industry and how broke I was – or maybe he was genuinely concerned?
Of course I hate the industry and I’m usually pretty broke – but mustn’t grumble… ” 🙂
VCC: Having the musical polymath, Lisen Rylander Löve, join you on the recent shows, seemed to create a whole new ambience – certainly from the audience’s perspective – and especially when you played at the beautifully-intimate, Hoxton Hall, in March. What can we expect from the up-coming Liverpool show?
RB: “Lisen has transformed the music and her input enables me to experiment a bit more and rely much less on any backing tracks. Of course we need rhythms, bass and some fx running in the background, but we can now improvise more and each performance can be different. For the Liverpool concert we will be joined by Luca Calabrese on trumpet, so I’ll have the two main contributors to my album with me. ”
VCC: What additional challenges will you face, playing this material in the Gothic splendour of a Victorian church?
RB: “I think the acoustics will present some problems for certain tracks and we will have to adjust our approach accordingly. On the other hand, some pieces like “Unholy, New Found Land and Experience Of Swimming” should work really well.”
(at this point, I desperately wanted to suggest that Richard could create a wonderful ‘mash-up’ of 2 of his songs…..just imagine ‘host to the unholy’!! However, common sense prevailed, and instead I used it as the title of the blog, Quite fitting, don’t you think?)
VCC: You have said that the Liverpool show is your final one for 2017, although you are also planning to join Lustans Lakejer on their 35th anniversary tour in Sweden, in October. Do you have any plans to step out onto the stage again in 2018?
RB: “There’s talk of possible concerts in Japan next year. I’d like to do a couple in Scotland and then hopefully Rome, and maybe Amsterdam? Scandinavia would be nice if something could be arranged. Beyond that I don’t know.”
(VCC immediately cancels her planned trip to Japan in March and awaits further news!)
VCC: What else may be on the cards for the coming year?
RB: “I’ll be releasing a series of EPs over the next 6 months. I can’t follow up my recent solo album just yet, but want to continue the creative process with diverse pieces and collaborations.”
So folks, there you have it. The promise of new music, some shows on foreign shores, as well as the upcoming performance in 4 weeks time. Exciting times, eh?
If you haven’t yet booked your tickets for the Liverpool show on 29th September, what are you waiting for? This promises to be a performance like no other, with Richard being joined by Lisen & Luca, in the most beautiful of settings. I have it on good authority, that there will be some new items available to purchase from the merchandise stand on the night, including a ltd edition print and concert posters.
To add to the fun, we have arranged an ‘aftershow’ get-together at Club 27, where a few dozen of us will be drinking, dancing and chatting the night away. If you fancy spending an evening, in the company of like-minded people, please feel free to join us.
Tickets for the show are available here: https://www.wegottickets.com/event/397153
Details of the afterparty & meet-up are on the Nightporter FB group: https://tinyurl.com/ybo758tr
Many thanks to Richard for answering my questions, and to Paul Rymer, Debi Zornes & Martin Bostock for the additional photographs.