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The People Band with Gina Southgate: London, UK , May 11, 2013

By Published: May 19, 2013
Observing The People Band onstage conjures up several reactions. There is a sense of delight, of course, but there is also bittersweetness because it is undoubtedly still one of the better free form combos when it plays, but it is rare to get its members together due to health problems, the band members being scattered all across the UK, and the various other projects in which they are involved; Charlie Hart, for example, is currently in four bands. However, this makes the events when the People Band comes together all the better and to be enjoyed.

The audience was also aware it had been treated to a display of a lot what is best about free playing. The People Band does not play as individuals, although each gets to solo. Instead, it plays as a tightly knit yet free combo—a difficult balance to achieve. The band plays for the listeners, too, tweaking each performance according to venue and mood so that no gig is ever the same. The players watch each other, picking up where support is needed, indicating when they want a fellow member to quieten down (whether they do or not is another matter) and listening intently to the music around them.

Together with the evolving paintings, the experience was organic, with art and craft on one stage. Free playing is, by nature, ephemeral. Those moments when several musicians come together and deliver sounds that make your soul smile, or when the playing of a soloist evokes deep emotions can never be recaptured. When the last note fades, the moment has gone forever. What Southgate did was, perhaps, capture those moments, holding them forever captive in her canvasses. She captured what was, for her, the essence of the moment and preserved it in a visual medium, offering the audience a chance to see lasting images evolving from moments of music when the artist made those fleeting, ephemeral moments of bliss permanent. One thing is for sure, the whole experience was interesting and hugely enjoyable.

The Vortex was a great venue for this mixed-media event. The atmosphere was friendly and the layout easy to navigate. The staff welcome all and have worked hard to create a venue which offers a good range of different music and events.

It is a rare occasion for The People Band to play, but the warm reaction from the audience should tell it how people feel and, if the group plays more often, as it apparently wants to do, then I, for one, intend to have a table, in the second row, with my name stamped on it.

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