Forgive the indulgence, but here’s a lovely review of Neil’s new album that actually mentions the string arrangements! Read it HERE
Here’s a film of the performance that we did live to air on WFUV New York. I love this song… it’s one of my favourites on the album.
I am delighted that the producers of ‘Field Punishment No.1’ have given me permission to add some excerpts from the score to my blog.
I won’t give any information about the context of these pieces – just the titles. Take from them what you will.
The score features Ashley Brown / Cello and Nigel Gavin / Ukelele. It was engineered by Andre Upston at Native Audio and mixed by Andre Upston at Radio New Zealand.
2. All Of Them
3. By The Light of the Moon
4. Sound Mind
I should perhaps have posted about this before I left – but there’s more to talk about now I’ve actually done it…
I’ve just returned from a pretty extraordinary trip to the USA and England, showcasing Neil Finn’s new album – Dizzy Heights (which can be pre-ordered here). This photo was taken by Frank Donnelly during the New York show at ‘Le Poisson Rouge’ and other shots from the show can be viewed here at Neil’s official website.
Neil, myself (keyboards and backing vocals) and the superlative Chris O’Connor (drums) had the great pleasure of working with a 9 piece string ensemble in each city we visited.
In Los Angeles, we performed at Largo at the Coronet, where we were joined onstage by Sebastian Steinberg, Mark Hart, Grant Lee Phillips and Mitchell Froom. Eric Gorfain from The Section Quartet contracted the string players (who included the other members of Section) and also did a super arrangement for ‘Sinner’, which we then performed in the other showcases too.
In New York, we played at ‘Le Poisson Rouge’ and were joined onstage by Neil’s sons Liam and Elroy along with EJ Barnes. My dear friend Mat Fieldes (who performs in the incredible Absolute Ensemble) contracted the string players in New York, which included some of his fellow musicians from the Broadway show he’s currently playing – Matilda (which I had the great pleasure of experiencing from the orchestral pit).
It was a very happy coincidence that my dear old mate Matt Penman happened to be in London while I was there and also happened to be playing a show at Ronnie Scott’s (with Zhenya Strigalev) the night before ours. We went to a vegetarian pub (yes, that exists). I listened to Matt play truly superlative bass (and you really should check him out on some of these recordings – with James Farm, with the SF Jazz Collective, on one of his solo albums or with Root 70). It was food for the soul.
In London we performed at the St James’ Church in Piccadilly which was an utterly gorgeous venue (thrown together by some guy called Christopher Wren) and were joined onstage by Connan Mockasin (whose latest video – I Am The Man, That Will Find You – is ever so slightly disturbing and utterly brilliant). The strings were contracted by Isobel Griffiths and were a sterling bunch of people and players. I received one of the greatest compliments of my life when one of them asked me (before we had been introduced) if I was Neil’s stylist. I thank that person from the bottom of my heart!
And then there was Paris… where we didn’t play.
But since I, as a creature from the Antipodes, was visiting New York and London for the first time and had always dreamed of one day indulging my francophilia and seeing Paris, city of my dreams, I got myself onto the merry Eurostar and went there for two days to meet dear friends and experience something of the ancient sophistication and elegance that I have so often imagined.
I did, indeed, sit in a cafe eating cheese and drinking carafe after carafe of Bordeaux, speaking appalling French to Parisians who politely allowed me to destroy their fine language – and indeed, encouraged me to do so – with the fond, gentle smiles that people normally reserve for small children.
I ate SO much cheese. I drank SO much wine. And my friends and I, reunited for such a short and happy time, talked about love and art and death… and it was all just about too much for my little heart.
So. I went to New York – and I didn’t see the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State. I went to London – and I didn’t see the Tower of London or the changing of the guard. I went to Paris – and I didn’t see La Tour Eiffel or the Avenue des Champs-Elysees. But I did eat and drink. And I wandered the streets and played music and met people and talked to cab drivers and strangers – and tried as hard as I could, in the fragments of time available to me, to sense and experience the nature of the places. And it was bloody wonderful. Every city had its own magic, every population had its own electricity. I feel totally changed by the whole thing.
So here, for all romantics, is Notre Dame de Paris as I first saw her… at 2.00am, in faint and freezing rain…
As of last week, Field Punishment Number One is finished and delivered – and as of yesterday, the final episode of The Almighty Johnsons (Season 3) is also complete. At times like these, I often find myself floating in something of an abyss… exhausted and awash with residual adrenaline from the rush towards the end. And, it’s fair to say that I’m looking forward to lingering on the sofa with my beautiful children and eventually clearing the pile of unopened mail off my desk.
However, I’m also very excited to say that Jonathan King (Black Sheep, Under The Mountain) has been making his third film – written by Chad Taylor – a futuristic, psychological drama called Realiti, starring Nathan Meister and Michelle Langstone (whose performance in The Almighty Johnsons this season has been really wonderful) among others. So I’m about to leap into another entirely different musical world.
I’m very excited about this… I love working with Jonathan and this film will be a slightly different approach, given that it’s super-low-budget (in that excellent, ultimate-creative-freedom-to-play-around-and-experiment kind of way). Science fiction and futuristic stories have always been the vehicles of my favourite soundtracks (the original Planet of the Apes, Alien, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Forbidden Planet) and while Realiti is not set in space and doesn’t involve aliens or robots or apes or Charlton Heston or any other such things… it’s a gritty, suspenseful mind-twister and I relish the musical opportunities it will present.