Sunday, 30 March 2014

Ron Geesin

29th March 2014

Glasgow City Halls
Ron Geesin - Glasgow March 2014

For us Wrinklies of a certain vintage the name Ron Geesin is inextricably linked with early-Seventies Pink Floyd; partly through Geesin’s collaboration with Roger Waters on The Body soundtrack album, but more vividly as co-writer of the title track of the Atom Heart Mother release.

Now a sprightly 70 years young, and a mere twelvemonth away from celebrating his half-century as a performing artist, Geesin was this evening playing a full concert in Glasgow for the first time since 1979, we learned.  Looking not unlike Jurassic Park-era Richard Attenborough (although sporting a far more convincing Scots accent), Ayrshire-born but Bothwell-raised Geesin treated us all to what?  How shall I describe his performance? 

Imagine if you can a hybrid of Ivor Cutler, Chic Murray and Jools Holland, and one may be able to just scratch the surface of this quite unique individual; his one-man show a blend of improvised musical interludes interspersed with monologues, anecdotes, poetry and perceptive home-spun aphorisms. 

Not all of the spoken-word stuff quite hit the mark, and the man was heard to ask himself rhetorically “How does He get away with this?”, after the completion of one piece was met with a slightly puzzled silence

Ron's stage-set prior to the performance -
note the plastic "jug" attached to the zimmer frame !

For the first half of the set Ron led us on an autobiographical journey; beginning with his childhood introduction to music, through his time with The Original Downtown Syncopators and thence to his solo performances opening for the likes of The Who and Genesis.  We were treated to improvised snippets on such diverse instruments as the banjo, cymbal, bass xylophone and piano.  I would suggest Ron’s musical abilities on the former instruments are best described as competent, but as a pianist he really is rather special.
The bulk of the second set was given over to a lengthy improv utilising one of those digital looping thingies.  After opening with a basic chord on the banjo and building on this, I am not convinced technology did not run away with Ron for a few minutes here.  For there was certainly some frantic knob-twiddling going on, as he attempted to bring some musical order to the aural chaos that was transpiring.  Although perhaps it was supposed to sound that way? 

Undaunted, once he moved to adding percussion and piano to proceedings the structure began to fall into place, and with his final addition of breathy Caledonian mutterings the composition evolved into a thing of rare beauty.

He “played us out” with a brief musical history lesson relating the evolution of ragtime into swing, but really we all knew this was naught but a flimsy excuse for some more breathtaking piano work. 

Which was more than fine by me.

I caught a brief word with the man afterwards and, having noted the performance was being filmed, I asked him what he planned to do with the footage.  He appeared genuinely taken aback by my question, stating “We don’t know yet”.  Which I suppose in a nutshell sums up the eccentric Mr Geesin’s refreshing Lets-just-do-it-and-see-what-happens approach to his art.

Ron Geesin - Glasgow March 2014

Ron Geesin - Glasgow March 2014

Ron Geesin - Glasgow March 2014

Ron Geesin - Glasgow March 2014

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