21 September 2012

Saturday night in Essex

P.E.A.R. spent last Saturday evening in a field in Essex, perched on a straw bale, sipping red wine and watching as the temporary radio station 'Writtle Calling/2EmmaToc' was transformed into a stage for a varied programme of audio performance.

As dusk fell, Jenny Haxtell (of Writtle Singers) sang Puccini's 'Addio di Mimi', also sung by Dame Nellie Melba during her historic 1920 broadcast from the nearby Marconi Factory at Chelmsford.  The structure of the radio station, otherworldly, like a space ship that had lost its way in Essex, was redolent of history.  It was one of those tingly moments when the world feels wonderful and weird, and the evening continued to be filled with strange moments of beauty intermingled with oddness.  

Kevin Atherton's conversation with his younger self was a highlight; the younger and older self irritated and enlightened by each other in equal measure.  Their conversation was both introspective and universal, a strange kind of performative philosophy.

The live set by Clout! was a fitting finale.  The group danced around the tiny stage, as they each took their turn in the lime light, with a professionalism that belied their youth.  Formed in Southend-on-Sea and utilising a mix of traditional band instruments alongside analogue synthesizers and samplers, the band reinforced both the forward-looking structure and programming of Writtle Calling and its referencing of the past.

all images copyright Nick Cunard