Bringing their own spin on an iconic album to the Capstone Theatre, Getintothis’ Sean Bradbury witnesses the Perri and Neil Quartet make a classic their own.
There is little point just covering Joni Mitchell, especially so in the case of her greatest album played in its entirety. How could Blue be bettered? What is the point of attempting to express the emotion of ten brilliant songs which collate fragile moments into an intimate story, projected implausibly but irresistibly into universal experience? Blue is at once a masterpiece in restraint – half the songs only Joni with a single instrument – and the ultimate confession. As the artist herself reflected several years after its release: “The Blue album, there’s hardly a dishonest note in the vocals. I felt like I had absolutely no secrets from the world and I couldn’t pretend in my life to be strong.”
It is precisely because the Perri and Neil Quartet do not cover, but reinterpret, that makes The Blue Project such a successful and worthwhile venture. They take the album as it was originally recorded – starting down a “lonely road” and ending up in those “dark cafe days” – gathering momentum and increasingly putting their own stamp on it as they progress.
When they truly hit their stride, somewhere around track four Carey, the music of Blue becomes suddenly filled with colour and warmth, alive with endless possibilities. Guitarist Neil Campbell – a man whose fingers have the ability to harness any imaginable sound in any given style – really tucks in to This Flight Tonight, ripping out riffs that blend space rock with John Martyn’s Big Muff.
Sense of Sound’s Perri Alleyne-Hughes wrapped herself around River and A Case of You convincingly enough to almost call them her own, while the rhythm section of Roger Gardiner (bass, with appropriately Jaco Pastorius vibe and locks) and Viktor Nordberg (drums and percussion) effortlessly ensure everything is locked in.
The first half of the night was a showcase of the group’s own material as well as a selection of standards and a few surprises. Highlights were the foursome’s version of King Crimson’s Matte Kudasai milked for every last drop of melody, a short and sweet musical adaptation of Adrian Henri’s Galactic Lovepoem and a playful Night and Day.
The originals were strong too – notably Breathe, Then and Both of You – and blended in seamlessly to a fine opening set.
Pictures by Getintothis‘ Glyn Akroyd