vendredi 8 juillet 2016

Hopelessness (at the Barbican)

I would say I am a medium-sized Madonna fan.  I have been to see Madonna live exactly once, and it was kind of by accident.  It was on her Re-Invention tour, at Earls Court in 2004, when American Life had just come out (I still maintain that is a really underrated album, one which I still listen to a lot - Nothing Fails is up there as one of my all-time favourite Madonna songs; then again my favourite Madonna song is Secret, so what do I know?!).

Anyway, as we know, Madonna charges a small fortune for concert tickets.  Which I find kind of annoying and would have stopped me from even considering going to see her.  Except my friend Neil had an unexpected spare ticket and asked me at the very last minute to come along.

I arrived that night in typically/slightly blasé fashion and I left a total convert.  For weeks afterwards, it was all I could talk about.  I'm still so glad I went, and grateful to Neil (as for many things) for making it happen.

Similarly, yesterday - my friend Debbie posted on Facebook that she had two tickets to see Anohni at the Barbican for that very night, and she could no longer go.  Would anybody like the tickets?

Yes, I would!  I had read a bit about the new Anohni album and that was it.  I was intrigued, but mostly it was just a nice sunny evening in London and I fancied a night out at the Barbican.  I roped in my friend Meadbh and we went for cocktails first.

That day, as I had read more about Anohni and the new album, I started to get more and more excited.  In fact, I started to wonder if maybe I was somehow *supposed* to unexpectedly see this show.

I'm so glad I did.  It was like nothing I have ever seen before - truly moving, powerful and wonderful.  Genuinely inspiring.  I can't even explain how incredible it was.  It went by in a flash.   As the lights came on, we looked at each other as if to say 'is it really over?'.  We couldn't actually speak.

The feeling is still with me today and I think it will be for some time.  In some tiny way, I am changed - which is the great aim, really, isn't it?  This is what art at its true best can do to us.  I want to write masterpieces and change the world.  In small ways, maybe.

The album and the show are titled Hopelessness - and it is an apt title, but the purpose it serves is the exact opposite.

As described in an article in the New Yorker:

“Hopelessness” does not live down to its naysaying title. As I fell deeper under the spell of Anohni’s voice, I forgot about the logistics of creating a better world, and began thinking about what I demand from art, why I had scoffed at the grand premise of this album. Why doesn’t more art aspire to do something that seems impossible? “Hopelessness” won’t turn back history or undo politics—that would be a foolish presumption. But, like the most powerful music, it reminds us of the importance of dignity, integrity, and imagination. The world Anohni describes on “Hopelessness” is unrelentingly awful; it is our world. But at the center of it is a transcendent voice singing against heavy machinery, daring you to listen to the words coming out of your own mouth.

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