For those that know the music of Blair Jollands, one of it’s many qualities is the scale, the cinematic approach, the layering of intricacy that make up the whole. And so the chance to see Blair reproduce this in an intimate, stripped back gig is the chance of a lifetime but also holds a little fear. Will the music that feels so beautifully produced, so minutely detailed hold up to the broader brush strokes of something more acoustic?
Last Saturday, Blair played an intimate house gig at Branden Farm in Kent. There were forty invited guests all keen to discover Blair and his music. It’s safe to say that there was no need to worry. Not only did the music work perfectly but it also served to highlight the outstanding musicianship of Blair and his fellow performers, Monica Vinoly on violin and keys and Johnny Hillier on bass.
Set opener ‘Ferris Wheel’ set the scene replacing the choral element of the original recording with a keyboard refrain that was reminiscent of Morricone’s ‘Sicilian Clan’ . For me the evolution of that track from its original form perfectly illustrates how Blair Jollands has developed from his ‘El Hula’ days. It was a feeling I had all night as I watched on in wonder. His music has found its natural peak with his latest recording and Blair treated the rapt audience to many of the new tracks as well as revisiting older tracks in a fresh way.
The dedication Blair, Monica. and Johnny showed to such a small gig was incredible. They sound checked thoroughly in order to make sure the end result was perfect. It is the perfectionist in Blair that comes across loud and clear. Each song was run through to make sure the evening’s performance would be as good as it possibly could be. The feedback from the music-loving audience was enthusiastic and deserved.
For many this was their first exposure to Blair’s music; for others, who had been exploring the music beforehand, it was a chance to see the new album in its live format. For all it was a night not to be forgotten. I cannot praise Blair Jollands highly enough for the music he provided. It was delivered with real sincerity and I’m certain this will not be the last time I see him perform live. It really was a privilege to be in the audience, even during the sound check!
If you’ve not had the chance to listen to this new album I implore you to do so. It’s become a firm favourite for me. It’s a rare chance to listen to a work that is so painstakingly created that every listen gives new pleasure, deeper understanding. If you’ve not had a chance to see the videos that accompany the release, please do take the time. Most importantly, if you’ve not had the chance to see Blair play live, please add it to your to do list. Blair has created a world we can step into and relish and when performed live it shows why we must support free thinking talent when we can.
Blair will play in Brighton on Friday and if you are anywhere nearby, or even if you are far away, do go and see him play. Blair, Monica, and Johnny will provide an evening you won’t forget as they create their superb soundscape. Discovering this music has been a game changer for me, so I’d love to hear what you think.
There is so much brilliance in the music industry that goes unsung and if we don’t support it, we will lose it. Let’s make sure artists like Blair Jollands know how important the music they provide is to us, the music lovers, all day, every day, in helping us get through our everyday life.