Café Glocksee, Hannover/Germany, 6/23/01, Concert Review
Love it or hate it, the Australian didjeridu has spread beyond the boundaries of its Aboriginal roots and generated maximum interest from around the globe. Despite the instruments current wave of popularity however, few people outside Aboriginal culture have been able to grasp the tremendous breadth of innovative and complex playing techniques developed by indigenous musicians over tens of thousands of years.
In the hands of the uninformed, non-musical, or downright ‘didj-dodgey’,
the previously exotic instrument and icon of outback Australia has garnered
a somewhat controversial reputation abroad.
I managed to catch one of Phil's concerts, advertised in the gig guide
as "Music for Didjeridu, Irish Horn and Sound System", while
on a recent visit to Germany. Persuaded by my friends to accompany them
and see some "gut" Australian music (as if perhaps I didn't
get enough back home in Melbourne), I was hauled off to Cafe Glocksee
located in downtown Hannover.
Staring at what appeared to be space-ship junk sculptures suspended above
the audience and savouring yet another German beer, I became aware of
the lights dimming, music getting louder, and finally the man himself
hittin' the stage. Beginning with some very focused solo instrumental
pieces, Conyngham was quick to establish his formidable skills in several
pumping tunes which at times made me forget that only one person was up
there. Earlier in the evening, I had tuned in to a radio interview held
with Phil during which he announced "to expect the unexpected".
I realised now that he wasn't kidding.
Typically cool Glocksee punters were now in Phil's hands as he went into
overdrive, manually programming and fading loops on an ancient Casio drum
machine whilst somehow managing to play infectious rhythms on the didj
that kept everyone moving.The sheer variety of sounds that he achieved
on his arsenal of didjes had us all gob-smacked for the duration of the
gig. The audience heaved and twisted to the Philth's pounding grooves
that were delivered to a now sweaty, beer soaked dance-floor.
Leaving the stage briefly to "have a quick breather and do the encore
shit", a wringing wet and visibly exhausted Philth dragged himself
back to an enraptured audience that wanted to go on partying. Slamming
into the noisy 'Didj 'n bass' tune Surfin', featuring a distorted fully
rockin' didj sound, he sent the punters mental. As they screamed, stomped,
and clapped for more, it was time for the 'Almighty Sound System' to finish
the show with some live sampling madness. After creating a bunch of sound
bytes, Conyngham unexpectedly jumped down from the stage and crossed through
the audience to reach the mixing desk. The loops still blasting from the
PA were tweaked to build a syncopated crescendo and a veritable wall of
sound, as he joined his sound engineer 'Almighty' behind a towering column
of cables and black boxes.
Later as we fell out of the Glocksee, I asked my companions to comment
on the gig: "He's a freak..." "He really rocked zee house!"
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