An eclectic ethereal treat. From new artists to seasoned musicians, the ensemble performances curated at The Beacon, by Keith Rodway for Necessary Animals, was a special treat with more than just the music. Having two performance areas gave the event an art gallery feel, where people could mill around inside and out amongst the garden fires and change seats for different performances. Unlike most showboating bands, Necessary Animals give the impression the music is almost complementary to your freedom to explore and commune. It resembles the kind of informal gathering encountered by Maurice Ronet visiting Jeanne Moreau in Louis Malle’s ‘Le Feu Follet,’ only with every artist aware of and countering self-aggrandising pretension. No stuffed shirts here. It is a work of art to make such an event with diverse musicians and varying setups a relaxed affair. The Beacon’s atmosphere lends to the notion all the bands have visited to give you a special performance in your own lounge.
Holly Finch and the Minor Dents got everyone settled in with the gentlest heart-warming guitar and vocals, accompanied by Ryan Bollard’s caressed kit and first ever live performance with Holly by Al Strachan doing things with trumpet and loops that found sumptuous unpredictable melodies and chord combinations with Holly’s guitar. Delicious alchemy. Rhythmic deep beats and electronica of Philip Sanderson compounded his pondering reflections, rippling and tickling the entire nervous system and air; oblique perspectives for the synapses; aural and neural reflexology. Next in line were the inimitable Simon & The Pope, with Keith Rodway’s sinuous oscillating synth tweaks, advocating “smoking at the bus stop” and “jumping the queue” in their winking sardonic word-play, deftly delivered on syncopated skins and filtered sample-pad, along with the coolest 50s suitcase kick drum for compact packing; traveling light lizards on the lounge-groove express. Lee Iggelsden then treated us to soulful guitar musings serenading Kim Thompset’s quintessential woodland folk tales from ‘The Hollows’ album.
Following the interval the entire audience were at once arrested and transfixed by Lucy Brennan’s spooky theatrics, performing a compelling tale of a woman who buried her husband neck-deep in sand and waited for the tide to turn. Brennan ‘pre-possessed’ held the space captive. A Halloween tale made more haunting by the accompaniment of Necessary Animals to the aerial and transcendent ‘Tian Tan Tiananmen’ from the album ‘Chi’ by gloppaddagloppadda – as Alan Bennett would likely describe, “the only word in the English language employing double ‘p’s and ‘d’s, repeated again with every other letter to make the ‘p’s and ‘d’s actually quadrupled. Knowledge that will no doubt comfort you whenever you discover your tights laddered in public, or you’re forced through the indignity of shopping at Tesco Express during a school run.” The plops and squiggles added by Nick Weekes’ sundry objects, Fritz Catlin’s percussive trickery and the band’s supple instrumentation transported the audience into a near-religious experience, but refreshingly free of the navel-gazing narcissistic preaching that now constitutes the woke political farce that has become the BBC’s Mercury Prize, with its obligatory contemporary soft Jazz concession. No such contrived compromises to NA’s forthcoming ‘Unkempt Magic, Dark Jazz 2‘ inclusive collaborative album. Lucy then elucidated on James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses,’ the subject of the next three numbers by Necessary Animals, from the album ‘Playboy of the Western Word’ with the sublime ‘Molly’s Soliloquy’ romancing the atmosphere in an unctuous glow; before NA rocked The Beacon’s foundations with some recent originals that will no doubt become their timeless cool classics; with Amanda Thompson and Kim Thompsett’s undisturbed disarming harmonies. Then some old covers: add 1 x Pink Floyd + Syd Barratt; 1 x Frank Zappa; and 1 x Bailey’s Machine, showing that if he chose to Keith could still brandish a megaphone over a ‘Multi-story Car Park’ and you have an audience shouting for more.
It all added up to a noise that would possibly attract your neighbours, rather than annoy them. Socially engaging euphoria and a thoroughly imbibing experience without anything pushed down any throat except the Thai supper and heart-warming Beacon Glow. A synergetic way to welcome in a balmy star-lit autumnal sky.
By Kendal Eaton.