Live at Holy Trinity Church on Monday, 7th May 2007
Contemporary Music Network tours are usually pretty special. But this was extra special. This was my first time in the Holy Trinity Church, and whilst the architecture hardly resembles that of the York Minster or Barcelona's Sagrada Familia, I don't think there are any live venues in Leeds which can match this type of setting.
Though I'm glad to be in what I would consider unusual surroundings, the Holy Trinity does have its downfalls. If you're not sat in the front 5 rows then you're not going to see as much as you like. As luck would have it, I'm sat in row 15 and I can just make out Jack Rose's thick curly hair. He begins his performance with two bluesy numbers which are very good, but admittedly he hardly shakes the earth. He then sets off on the first of two Indian-tinged journeys which push the boundaries of guitar playing to another level, I sit hypnotised... my head conjuring up imagery such as walking the busy market streets of Mumbai in the blistering heat. It's incredible to think that one sole acoustic instrument can create such vivid landscapes. Jack rounds off his performance returning to the blues formula that he began his set with, and departs to much applause.
I take the opportunity to go outside for a cigarette where I am met by an old work colleague (Matthew Bower) and his wife (who both happen to be internationally renowned noise artists). Much to my surprise, Matthew tells me he has actually performed with tonight's headline act AHAAH on a couple of occasions in Paris, and he also mentions that he is friends with Jack. A few seconds later we are met by the man in question, who declares that he is very happy with his own performance.
I return back inside to find several members of A Hawk And A Hacksaw and the smartly dressed Hun Hangar ensemble (yes they're from Hungary) walking down the central isle bearing ritualistic face masks and head gear. It's all rather surreal, but right now this is where it's at. I stand at the back - I'm too far away, so I try sitting on the far side seating - I'm obstructed by huge concrete pillars. It's frustrating but I ride it out, the delightful Eastern European gypsy folk bellowing out of the speakers enough to pull me through.
A break in the set leads me outside for another cigarette and on my return I somehow find myself in row 3. Result! AHAAH play many songs from the amazing 'The Way The Wind Blows' and lots of fun, up-tempo numbers I have no prior recollection of (I still haven't got my hands on the new EP which coincides with this UK tour). The speed of Jeremy Barnes accordion playing is impressive and it is met with cohesive accuracy from the Hun Hangar line-up of; Sax, Trumpet, Upright Bass & Cimbalom (a traditional Hungarian instrument), whilst Jeremy's partner-in-crime Heather Trost brings the sorrowful and occasionally sinister edge on Violin. We also have the pleasure of witnessing the Hungarian bagpipes, they resemble a dead animal carcass and the haunting drones which it produces are wonderful.
With time quickly running out, head-honcho Jeremy Barnes introduces the band and it's the distinctively plump figure Balazs Unger (on cimbalom) who receives the biggest cheer. His ferocious playing skills haven't gone unnoticed by the audience, and he's become somewhat of a cult hero by now.
The band bring an end to their mesmerising performance, Leaving to rapturous applause and taking things from the stage (giving the impression that it was all over). The cheers had hardly dropped when the cimbalom player returned to the stage and several members of the band emerge from the side isle once again sporting the face/head gear in which they had begun the set; returning down the middle isle and onto the stage before playing out the last piece. They leave the stage to a standing ovation and a barrage of cheers... a fitting mark of respect to the evening's astonishing spectacle.