Friday, 24 March 2017
The Necks
Written by Matt O'Neill   
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 21:03

The NecksPhoto – John Tapia Urquiza

The Necks will never be immortalised in print. For nearly twenty-five years, their sound has defied linguistics. Furthermore, it has defied conventional understandings of appeal and longevity. The Sydney trio have arguably been delivering an essentially unchanged product since 1987 – vast, expansive meditations of minimalist abstraction and illusive psycho-acoustic invention. Still, they remain consistently acclaimed. The audience for tonight's performance is almost a capacity crowd.

The performance itself, meanwhile, effortlessly demonstrates just how and why they've sustained such a devoted following over the years. As per usual, the band opt to perform two improvised sets. Their initial work isn't actually their strongest but, even off their game, The Necks showcase a uniquely fascinating approach to sound and extemporary performance – drummer Tony Buck opening proceedings with a drum-roll which eventually runs for nearly half-an-hour.

As time stretches, Buck expands with additional percussion and shakers. Pianist Chris Abrahams joins the fray with stabbing, exploratory piano chords. Upright bassist Lloyd Swanton cycles through percussive fretwork, bowed textural experimentation and low, searching, solitary notes. It's an unquestionably exhilarating experience – arguably some of the most free-wheeling and chaotic music The Necks have produced in a live setting.

Nevertheless, it doesn't feel right. The ideas seem to clash in an uncomfortable manner. The players seem to rush their transitions. Typically, The Necks' performances feel like an unfurling – a gradual, meticulously orchestrated explosion of inspiration. This reads more like a collage. The audience are clearly satisfied when matters draw to a close but it's difficult to know what to expect of the band's pending follow-up performance.

When said performance materialises, it proves itself almost categorically opposed to its predecessor's frenetic dynamics. The set begins with a lively and lyrical melodic figure from Abrahams but swiftly deteriorates into a pulsing, skeletal architecture which serves to define the band's entire performance – Buck riding an endless sequence of off-kilter tom-rhythms, Abrahams continuously swirling his fingers across a single melodic fragment, Swanton often merely plugging away at a single note.

The repetition draws audiences into the detail of the maelstrom. Each minor variation – however slight in execution – becomes almost titanic in significance. When Swanton settles into a single note after pummelling audiences with a brutal two-note figure, an almost inescapable tension swallows the amphitheatre. Buck seems to shift time itself simply through replacing a tom with a crash cymbal. Each detail feels magnified to galactic proportions.

Abrahams' eventual conclusion is devastating. Spontaneously reprising his opening melodic figure in the piece's tremulous final moments, he lends a sense of scope and gravitas to the band's performance that many cynics would deem beyond the capacity of an improvised piece of music. It's in the lingering ecstasy and surprise of such a conclusion that The Necks' justify their longevity – reminding audiences of the sheer joyous discovery of sound and its infinite possibilities.

Stellar. As per usual.


THE NECKS

Venue: Brisbane Powerhouse
Date: Thu 29 March, 2012
Bookings: www.brisbanepowerhouse.org


Pin It

Comments (0)

Subscribe to this comment's feed

Write comment

You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy
 
PozibleAustralian Stage JobsMembers Area
 

TODAY in Brisbane

No events

Most Read BRISBANE Reviews

Single Asian Female | La Boite Theatre Company
Single Asian Female plunks the audience in the middle of the lives of the women of the Wong family – and quite literally in...
American Idiot | shake & stir theatre co
In an arts landscape that so easily slips into an ‘art-for-arts sake’ mentality, shake & stir have ferociously identifi...
Ladies in Black | Queensland Theatre
Musicals are on song. With the recent release of ‘La La Land’ the staging of Ladies in Black is timely. I looked forward to...
My Fair Lady | Opera Australia and John Frost
What a theatrical ride: in a show of this magnitude and grandeur, it is hard to single out all the characters and regale th...
Every Brilliant Thing | Paines Plough and Pentabus Theatre Company
It’s hard to imagine leaving a theatre show about a boy whose mum is suicidal with cheeks sore from smiling, but the after-...