RUTH MARINER enjoys three nights out in one as she drinks up the eclectic cultural cocktail FILTHY LUCRE 2
The Vaults, Thursday 9th Feb, £3/£5
Hosted by the erudite and ever enigmatic Joseph Bates, Filthy Lucre No. 2 served up a eclectic cultural cocktail in the dark quarters of The Vaults. It was a three-in-one extravaganza, kicking off with classical, playing with pop, then dancing into oblivion with DJ Lumi’s disco mix.
The marched off in military style with The Soldiers Tale by modernist mastermind Igor Stravinsky. At the start, the violin tuning needed to be a slightly more accurate to keep the ensemble together, but towards the end the players really pulled off the nonchalant phrasing, passing jaunty melodies back and forth like a casual conversation.
Up next was Tansy Davies’s neon; a bright burst of satisfying scrunchy keyboard textures, funky off-beat cello chords and aggressively robotic melodic fragments. However, the writing only really requires you to pay attention for the first two minutes. Fortunately, conductor Will Cole’s rhythmic drive kept the piece afloat, breathing life into a rather flat work that otherwise is formally akin to a game of Tetris.
The evening also saw the best of Cambridge’s raw compositional talent. Joseph Bates’ Filthy Lucre (What? He can only think of titles once a term?) and compositional prodigy Toby Young’s Ginger and Spice. Both short and sweet, we saw the best of Young’s overtly melodic writing and strong sense of theatre, and Bates’ dramatic form and playful disjunct melody lines.
Filthy Lucre by Joe Bates and Ginger and Spice by Toby Young
By the pop half of the evening, the place was looking pretty packed out. Front-men Geoff Clapham and Sam Oladeinde delivered an upbeat series of covers. The arrangement of Bombay Bicycle Club’s Always Like This was suitably bouncy with the main riff on the keyboard; Radiohead and Portishead worked well with the singer’s voices and the underground vibe. Catherine Harrison’s rendition of Bjork’s Venus As A Boy was stunning, although from the side it did look a bit like she was singing into the mirror. Tune-Yard’s Gansta was definitely the dud of the set list. The rough edges of the original were lost and the song was scrubbed clean into bland indie. It needed a little less Cambridge; a little more crack-den.
DJ Lumi mixed Lana Del Rey with vintage classics like Nina Simone, keeping everyone upbeat right until the last number when he let the night trail off, the music getting ever more depressing until we decided to leave.
For contemporary connoisseurs, the wet acoustic was a bit of a problem; the pop absorbed the messy acoustic way better than the classical. I also wondered whether The Vaults was really the best place for it. The performers were tucked away slightly, and with the fantastic lighting and acid projections around, it was a shame that they weren’t creatively integrated into the performances to enhance the drama. But hands together for everyone involved in a diverse and daring project. Joe Bates and co-organizer Anthony Friend certainly showed what being proactive can do to make Cambridge creative, not crusty.