Doing battle with daily dragons

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Sunday Soul Salve

There’s something to be said for taking one day out of the week to do something to soothe over those little bruises left on your soul when people steal your parking space, spill a pint in your lap or just generally exercise callous disregard for your status of fellow human being. When I was little, Sundays meant spending an hour sitting on a hard bench listening to sermons. Now that I’m an adult, I find that sitting in a quiet pub garden or going on a walk along the canal have similar, if mot much more pleasant results.

This last Sunday, in recompense for a weekend spent in gigland, the Rock Star treated me to an afternoon far away from his hairy compatriots at the Royal Albert Hall. It was my first trip to the Hall, which was exciting in its own right, but I was truly chuffed to be going to see Bobby McFerrin.

The Rock Star and I opted for Second Tier seating, which was extraordinarily civilised; boxes consisting of 6 seats each. We were lucky enough to get the two directly in front so that our view of both the stage and the magnificent hall were completely unimpeded. Still more civilised was the bucket of champagne we purchased moments after sitting down.

I think I said this before, but anyone out there who’s only experience with McFerrin is the mostly awful “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” which has spawned a legion of annoying bumper stickers, t-shirts and stoner paraphernalia, for heaven’s sake, go to iTunes and find out what he’s REALLY capable of. The talent he’s got is so unbelievably unique; it actually leads you to wonder how he discovered that he could do it. Most of his solo performance Sunday evening consisted of what can only be described as vocal gymnastics; at one point growling deep in his throat while sustaining another, much higher note. You could literally see jaws dropping all the way around the Hall. He had a brilliant rapport with the audience, often exhorting us to provide harmonies to his sonant fireworks.

Starting and stealing the show, however, was The African Children’s Choir, which I would have been expecting had I bothered to read the description of the concert on-line. I’m very easily emotionally broadsided by music and was caught completely unawares by the honest, orange-colored harmonies. (I find music easier to describe in colors; I don’t think I’m alone in that.) The children were hugely enthusiastic, very talented and deserved the thunderous applause they received from both the galleries and the ground floor, which was mostly populated by “serial” Promers.

Serial Promers seem to be like a very well educated and slightly more civilized version of a Rocky Horror Picture Show crowd. (i.e. without the fishnets.) Instead of everyone knowing the words to “Sweet Transvestite”, there’s not a soul in the house who doesn’t know the Bach “Ave Maria”. I thought McFerrin was taking an awful risk when he launched into a stunning vocal rendition of the organ accompaniment of the piece and expected the audience to provide the rest, but there was an extraordinary swell of voices from the ground floor, note perfect and beautiful.

Feeling hugely uplifted by both music and champagne, The Rock Star and I staggered through Hyde Park with the intention of yumming up a bit of dinner at the Hard Rock Café. However, upon our arrival, there seemed to be a private event taking place, so we headed back to our car and drove until we found a not quite suitable, but filling Pizza Hut in Watford before returning home to our cosy, floating abode, soul bruises well and truly salved.