Julia Helles - Nigel Kennedy at the E-Werk
Germany, Cologne, March 15th, 1997
The weather outside the venue was terrible, the queue was horribly long, but inside it was one of the very greatest concerts the E-Werk had ever seen. When the ,,three men in black" (apart from John's orange socks, that is) Nigel Kennedy, Rory McFarlane and John Etheridge entered the beautifully illuminated stage half an hour late, it wasn't their fault, but it was technologically impossible to get 2,500 people Into a sold-out venue in just one hour. After an 8-minute-long epic called, erm, "Tuning up", they went right over into the fabulous set. Generally, a solo number by Bartok on the Guarneri was followed by a Hendrix cover by the Trio featuring Nigel on the electric violin.
This was just the right balance.
The Hendrix numbers whirled up and the Bartok numbers brought down an audience that was as contrary as Dana Scully and Fox Mulder (that's one for all you X-Philes, I could also say that one half consisted of serious, solemn people and the other of people who seemed likely to seek inspiration out of it) and filled everyone with enthusiasm. Nigel talked very little for the first half, but after the break, in which he gave autographs (needless to say that this was an extremely cool thing of him to do), he turned into the stand-up-comedian Nigel Kennedy.
He started with a lecture on the selection of his bows (apparently he played with an English bow in the first half but decided that it was, "a pile of builshit" and played with a French bow in the second half, hoping that ,this will add more distinction yet delicacy to my play" or something as sophisticated as that).
After Bach, he teamed up with an old mate from college for some Bartok duos ("I hope he will turn up as it is always a bit difficult to play a duo on your own."). Then they started reading out the titles of the pieces in German first (Nigel,"This one is mucken dans, oh...it's mucky dance actually, ha ha ha. What's the right pronunciation of it, Peter?"), followed by the English title which is where most of the audience got an idea of the title from, and then the Hungarian original title.
This was really funny, they got the entire E-Werk laughing with that.("In his beautiful native language, Bartok decided to simply call it Nachanata chatiaa tourrra (it sounded like that,anyway) HAW HAW HAW). This number was repeated on several occasions, and it was a great laugh. We sometimes even feared that he would drop his violin, but fortunately he didn't, so we could enjoy a wonderful night of fantastic music- Cheers Nigel, Rorv and John for finally bringing excellent music back into the E-Werk