Saturday 03 December 2005

Blue Snapper Café Bar & Restaurant, Penzance.


Well. What a difference a church makes. St. Peter’s, Newlyn…

The Morning Office at 09.00 and Eucharist at 09.30 were an uplifting, moving and supportive beginning to the day. Then, into Penzance and the Blue Snapper for morning cappuccino; up the hill for a brief bibliophiliacal eruption; and back to St. Peter’s for set-up…

Altar flanked by a pair of John Millers…

… and other artworks…

We’re over here…

The benevolent presence waiting within the church was reinforced by the artworks of primarily local artists, including the late John Miller. Brother Peter supervises the display…

The last time Soundcapes were here was almost exactly eight years ago (Saturday 6th December 1997). On that occasion, just as I was about to begin, the about-to-be-beginning was destroyed by a local photojournalist who interrupted the first notes to ask for a photo. To avoid the same situation this time, the audience were to be held until 13.00, the scheduled beginning time. But with people arriving to specking rain in brisk weather, I asked they be allowed into the church. While tuning (another point of critical vulnerability) at 12.45, suddenly – FLASH! There it was, all over again, yet again.

I stopped, stood, and explained to the photographer, a forty-something male – how last time right at the beginning, etc.; point of vulnerability, etc.; how I’d asked for people to be allowed in early because of the weather, etc.; we hadn’t believed anyone would photograph etc. – that’s why he’d taken his photograph now, he explained: before the performance began. And he had put his camera away. So that’s all right then. Those, who seek to take something for themselves, instinctively sense the vulnerability of their prey and pounce; and will do so, regardless of propriety, the promptings of conscience, conventional courtesies, good manners and even respect for sacred space. This is the human condition. To change the world is to change the human condition, and this is not an external application. Nor can it be done to others; neither can it be done on our behalf. Large gestures and extravagant actions that affect the lives of many are easy; giving up a little of something that we want for ourselves, very hard.

The performance began punctually at 13.00; after about thirty-five minutes, the first walk around the space as Soundscapes continued; returning and playing; then walking again. Some audients left after an hour, and at the beginning of the second hour, the atmosphere changed and the music developed. Then a further walk around at 14.30, sitting and listening at the back: when a young man approached with his gatefold cover of the vinyl No Pussyfooting to be signed. Immediately legs snapped like whipcords hurtling towards the Soundscaping stool. Several Shallal members began dancing at 14.45, with Soundscape accompaniment. The performance completed at 15.00.

A very attentive, engaged and present audience. This was a privileged event. Then, a swift escape, past the persistent young man whose purpose in life was to get a Discipline cd cover autographed. Alex and John are packing up the gear. Brother Peter is packing up the artwork before coming here for coffee.

 22.49     Bredonborough.

Tea and coffee with various Willises at the Blue Snapper before leaving Penzance. Godson Jack Willis arrived early and I was very happy to hear Jack’s news and views on the present state of the world.

A wonderful day, a wonderful heartfulness visit: meeting family and friends, and a performance event that resonated. It confirmed the view that, for a musical performance to have value (for me), it cannot take place as an event mediated by commerce. Not only are the performance spaces mostly unsuitable (even secular spaces can have resonance and presence) but an attitude accompanies the parting of hard-earned pay – I have rights! I’ve given you my money! You better give me what I want! The sense of commercial obligation prevents anything being given from itself and destroys reciprocity. Even today in Newlyn, with a remarkably attentive audience supportive of the event, radical fetishising of inherent and delineated meanings were only held back by a hair’s breath, rapid footwork and (I hesitate to use the word) grace.

The quality of the day travelled in the car home. Slinky Minx arrives within the hour.