Tuesday, November 20, 2007

When Volume Becomes a Fatal Flaw

Two experiences recently for which I have had very high expectations and actually brilliant experiences, but in possession of a common fatal flaw not in themselves, but in their execution.

1. Florence
Beautiful city - great architecture (if a little frilly for my liking), great art (I defy anyone not to gawp at Michelangelo's David), and, for the most part, very good food.

I can't tell you the thrill I felt at walking through the various piazzas, past the Uffizi and down to the Arno especially after watching A Room with a View at least fifty times in my life time (mostly concentrated between the ages of thirteen and twenty) and finally reading it just over a year ago.

I hope you can, however, taste the rising bile and feel the burn on my cheeks, when, on the second day, on walking towards the Santa Croce (home of more art than the pope could shake a stick at) I turned to Rob and screeched "I'm not getting stuck waddling behind another loud, American tour party!". There may have been some additional swearing inserted, but I'll spare your blushes.

Now I have a genuine admiration for the self belief and confidence of the US despite the fact it may contribute to the war stuff, but for a nation supposedly hooked on therapy, a little self awareness when in foreign climes would go a long way.

Let's just say volume was an issue, both in terms of the audio effects the group generated and the sheer mass the groups formed (the latter at least having the upside of making me feel like a European waif a la Vanessa Paradis, which doesn't happen too often).

So if you want to visit for a few days, my strong advice is to check whenever the hotel prices are cheapest and go then, I don't want to imagine the booming, fleshy horror that high season would entail.

2. The Arcade Fire at Alexandra Palace
A great set, a great band, and a great job of filling and inspiring a venue not built for music. Absolutely worth seeing. (More complete and professional review from an amateur on last.fm by following link in title above.)

But my very favourite song, a moving, delicate yet rousing piece "My Body is a Cage", that I'd been singing so much in anticipation it featured in my Facebook status, managed to be cocked up by the sound people and had no audible vocals whatsoever due to I don't know what. I choose not to blame that crazy rock orchestra but rather an anonymous engineer who was clearly too busy on the mixing desk getting the balance between treble and bass right to remember to turn the volume up.

However, there was an upside to this flaw, in that I'd missed half of it having been in the loo anyway and had I been able to hear it from there, I may have broken out of the cubicle, pants half mast, struggling towards the mosh pit, sobbing on bloody knees.

And if you're wondering about the gratuitous Winehouse shot, I have tickets to see big-haired Amy at Brixton Academy on Thursday night - I may be going for a hat trick of brilliance tinged with disappointment and a soup├žon of rage.