Just witnessed your
best live gig?..send us a review!
MUN FLOYD featuring Ron Geesin and David Gilmour
Chelsea Festival, Cadogen Hall 15 June 2008
The second of two performances of Atom Heart Mother, this one with special guest
David Gilmour which made for a truly a magical evening.
"Atom Heart Mother" is the opening 23 minute title track of Pink Floyd's 1970
LP, the band's first big seller, which took prog rock to a new level with a
brass section, choir, cello and orchestration from Ron Geesin. This show
combined all that and a whole lot more.
Both nights opened with an introduction from the festival's director before Ron
introduced the 10 piece Royal College Of Music brass ensemble, who performed a
new piece written by Geesin. A staccato intro would have surprised all those who
were here to see ATM, but it built and smoothened. I personally found it a
little too challenging.
A sense of humour shone over any nerves and tension as Ron Geesin then read out
some writings (aphorisms and anti aphorisms); it was only after 2 or 3 of these
that the audience began to understand these statements, but they soon were
laughing in both humour and understanding. The previous evening had included
work read from a self published book of some 30 years ago, which promptly sold
The piano piece was manic, Geesin foot stomping to his own high paced ivory
abuse and it was certainly appreciated. In typical Geesin fashion, this was not
written until sat at the piano.
Cellist Caroline Dale then joined Ron for a new composition, for cello and banjo
with eastern tuning entitled "Fight or Flight"; one for art lovers and loved
accordingly. Dale is certainly one of the best players I've heard, but then I've
not heard that many.
A more traditional banjo was then used to introduce the concept of thrash banjo
playing in a rather unique solo performance. Some manic mutterings (for an idea
of the sound, think insane German done in a heavy Glaswegian accent) accompany.
Ever seen a rock fan appreciating music, enjoying the humour and confused all at
once? There were many.
Closing the set was abuse of a bass marimba (like the solo banjo and piano,
typical of Geesin on stage) which led into a choir piece accompanied by slowed
song of blackbird. Atmospheric and a whole lot more than just pleasant. Geesin
was first to applaud them, and to shoo the audience to the bar.
The second set opened (similarly to the previous evening) with Ron Geesin
introducing the track "Atom Heart Mother" itself, with a potted history and a
brief slide show, including his own compositions, photos of the band in the
studio and more, all mixing humour and facts, giving fans an opportunity to
learn what is oft overlooked (and what the band have almost disowned for the
last 35 years); felt particularly proud to get a name check having spent a day
and a half in Colindale newspaper library (part of the British Library)
researching exactly which newspaper ran the story from which the title was
Ron then introduced the choir, brass ensemble, Caroline
and conductor Mark Forkgen (who I met with the band, Caroline and David at
the previous Thursday's rehearsal). Top Italian tribute band Mun Floyd
then took to the stage with rapturous applause, tonight only featuring
second lead guitarist David Gilmour (or as Geesin puts it, "a fellow tree
hugger from Sussex").
Tonight's performance of "Atom Heart Mother" is longer that even last
night's performance, with one of the cello solos extended considerably,
and one piece repeated with the out of step transposing, as per the
original recording, and again as originally intended.
The piece itself starts (eventually, the slow and noisy retraction of the
projection screen also annoying Gilmour) with brass chords intended to
grate, and the band come in together. I would describe the song in too
much detail, but you get here over 30 minutes of progressive rock with
brass, choir and cello.
It is an interesting and unique arrangement, including 2
guitars. Gilmour, who seems to take a little while to loosen up, mixes guitar
and lap slide guitar, seems to lose himself in a world of his own during a long
solo that would please any Floyd fan and more. A couple of bars are missed,
don't know if it was a technical trouble with the guitar just losing sound.
The Mun Floyd guitarist plays a little extra (under instruction, from Thursday's
rehearsal) to allow David to sit or stand where required.
The cello parts work very well, Caroline Dale's playing vigorous, and the choir
mix in extremely well.
The piece is complete with sound effects, augmented with Geesin's piano playing
(some direct to strings for added effect), who also adds the shout of "Silence
In The Studio".
Part of the song was played again for the encore too.
At the end there was a standing ovation and quite right too. All hugs and
smiles, but compared to the previous evening's unified bow, it was a little
shambolic; no-one taking the MC role to bring everyone together.
Overall a complete success, a unique and enthralling experience. Those who had
travelled from around the world have deemed it more than worthwhile.
A performance like this, with or without band involvement, should not be
restricted to an arts festival.
Review by Joe Geesin
|Print this page in printer-friendly format
|Tell a friend about this page