Anna Meredith at EartH, Hackney
Wednesday night saw sweat filled black box EartH Hackney rammed full as people came to hear Anna Meredith create her unique and fully charged compositions.
If you’re not familiar with Meredith’s work it’s a maelstrom of modern classical mixed with driving, pulsing yet sometimes delicate and twinkly electronica. If you think this sounds pretty unique that’s because it does, listening to her most recent album, FIBS, it has an otherworldly feeling to it which sounds like it might just be the composer twiddling knobs and dials for 90 mins in a live setting but no, (she has a tuba player on stage as well as a Cellist) far from it. As daft as this sounds it was surprising and delightful to realise that we were going to see a live band play these hulking great beat beasts (did I mention the tuba?). This provides a pretty full on night’s work for Meredith herself who helms the keyboards, vocals, drum parts and clarinet as well as giving good chat with the crowd. She comes across as the kind of person that would help you move house but would then unpack your boxes and turn them all into brand new musical instruments. Exciting.
Her joy and pleasure of being there extends to the other band members who all look and play with great engagement throughout, not least Sam Wilson on drums who has to be on his A game all night. Despite the thumping electro this is not 4 to the floor hands in the air time, the compositions offer up challenging rhythms and great disparities sound, most noticeably the big, high pitched slashes of keyboard and guitar (Jack Ross) playing off against the deep bass sounds of the cello (Maddie Cutter) and tuba (Tom Kelly on tuba). There’s a swing between the heavier, more furious tracks and more delicate chamber style pieces that help keep shifting the mood all evening. For my money the night really excels when bringing out larger pieces, tracks like Bump and Sawbones that feature thunderous builds dropping away to nothing or suddenly revealing a more fragile and intriguing moment, it all sounds wonderful played out in front of you.
The end of the night offers up even more surprises, after finishing the set with the the careening, rollercoasting, thunderdome of a track, Paramour, we get a medley encore of Daniel Beddingfield, ABBA, Carly Rae Jepsen, O-Zone and The Crystal Maze. It’s barmy but somehow fits the rest of night. Experimental electro that’s accessible, fun and exhilarating.