Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fribo: St Bride's Centre, Edinburgh,15 August 2010

I saw first saw Fribo in Glasgow back in January 2009. This time they were alone on the bill, and they now have a new line-up. Founder member Sarah-Jane Summers has decamped to Norway (appropriately I suppose) and her place on fiddle (and sometimes vocals) is fellow Scot Hannah Read, apparently in her final year at Berklee. On this showing Read is every bit the fiddler that Summers was, though much blonder and with an occasionally distracting habit of standing on one leg while playing (as she was wearing a red dress I kept thinking of Pretty Flamingo). This time Fribo had brought their own percussionist rather than borrowing a local one: Magnus Lundmark, who played cajon. (Coincidentally we bought my drumming son a cajon for his 18th birthday and it arrived the following day.) I think of cajons as hand drums but Lundmark played mainly with a set of brushes, which was interesting. Anne Sofie Linge Valdal was just as good on vocals as before but could shine on her own: and I have rarely seen such a cheerful singer. This woman could smile for Scotland (if she weren't Norwegian).

The music was as good as ever. Most of it was on the limited edition CD (Happ) they were selling, which I gather from Ewan MacPherson is due to be re-recorded and/or remixed into a fianl version with additional material later in the year in Norway. The one I bought sounds just fine so I don't imagine I'll trade up, but for the rest of you it should be worth getting if you have any interest in Nu-Nordic music.

I've just spotted that the CD has additional percussion by Signy Jakobsdottir, last year's "local" percussonist, so either Signy wasn't just co-opted for the Glasgow gig last year or they decided to keep her. My mistake.

My only reservation about the gig, the only thing that would drop it from five stars to four, is that this time in a small intimate venue it became clear that Fribo are a band who would really shine most where they could interact more with the audience. In Glasgow they were in a huge hall, and nobody expects interaction there other than from seriously brilliant workers of an audience. But here I kept thinking how much better they would be if the house lights were up and they could see who they were playing to, and how seriously amazing they could be in, say, a ceildh setting, or anywhere where people could get up and dance (they could set up in the bar at your local and tear the roof off) Because so much of what they play is dance music, albeit dance music with slashes through its Os and circles over its As: and they really are excellent at it.

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