Cinematic Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall livestream

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Cinematic Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall livestream

Cinematic Orchestra's "To Build A Home" is one of my go-to sad songs.  It was the only song from their catalogue that has really connected with me, but after finishing our livestream of Harbor and wanting to see how other bands approach the medium, Minh and I got a ticket for this show.  We were pleased we did.

The music was thoroughly enjoyable.  I liked many of the pieces a lot, especially songs two and three of the setlist where the drumming took more of a lead role.  The final song was my least favorite but is apparently popular with others, so I'm in the minority.  My guess is that the show was pre-recorded and not live, as small parts of the stage setup changed between songs.

To my ear, Cinematic Orchestra's music emphasizes tone and timbre over complicated rhythmic or melodic structure.  The builds are gradual, there are many layers, and the mix is thick, with no one instrument standing at the front.  It feels like "zone improvisation", where everyone vamps in a certain mood until Jason Swinscoe gives the signal to move on.  I sometimes craved more space in the mix, and I wanted the band to build more gradually behind soloists; the saxophone and the rhodes features felt unsupported.  And I'll admit I was bored at times, but that's subjective.  Without question, the music was intentional and well executed.

Livestream lives or dies by the videography, and this succeeded.  The shots were artful without overstepping.  Some of the multi-pane graphics drew too much attention to themselves, and the non-musician shots were distracting when they were moving-camera shots (like a shot of the camera moving down the isle in the audience seats), but these are silly quibbles.  The camera followed the musical action well and beautifully framed the players.  The lighting and staging were similarly tasteful.  The only major fault I found with the direction was the use of slow-motion shots.  For me, these miss the essential goal of a live show: to connect you to the musicians.

Setlist (from memory)

  • ?
  • ?
  • Sunsweep
  • You Are the Only One (?)
  • Channel 1 Suite
  • Flite
  • All That You Give

Members

  • Jason Swinscoe, electronics
  • Luke Flowers, drums
  • Phil France, bass
  • Tom Chant, saxophone
  • Nick Ramm, piano / rhodes
  • Stuart McCallum, guitar
  • ?, upright bass
  • ?, vocals
  • ?, vocals
  • Leander Ward, director

Notes for self

  • Avoid conducting.  Remember to let Minh and others lead.
  • Find believable way to use lights as props.
  • In grooves, be patient but not static.