image of Harold Budd, Theo Travis and Bill Nelson

Image of harold budd

Image of Harold Budd and band
Somnambule - Writing About Music

Harold Budd's Final Concert

21st May 2005, Brighton Dome

Balanescu String Quartet

Alexander Balanescu took the stage in trademark black suit and hat. The two string quartets that followed were gorgeous, though the first was the most impressive. The music was recognisable from Budd's most recent release, Avalon Sutra. There was an aching sense of loss in the compositions that was even more moving when heard away fromthe perfectionism of the studio recording.

with Bill Nelson

Two or four quite enjoyable duets, difficult to tell, but theyre appeared to be a degree of improvisation by Nelson.

with John Foxx

My teenage idol, of sorts. Funny to see him after so many years which he's worn well (along with Budd who looks much younger than 69). Foxx contributed sung parts, the first of which was the more interesting. There were choral echoes of his Pater Noster bound up with a more eastern emphasis.

with Theo Travis

I didn't enjoy Travis's performances on flute and sax, finding that he took Budd's compositions too far into sentimental waters.

Budd solo

Probably my favourite part of the concert, Budd performed a solo medley of pieces to which I closed my eyes and began to drift away, borne upon the limpid melancholy of his melodic improvisations. The whole concert could have been Budd performing solo and I think I would have preferred it by far. Or, ideally, Budd and Balanescu's strings.

Second half ~ 'Calligraphy'

Preceded by 'Lirio', a 1970 composition for solo gong performed by Steve Jansen, Calligraphy proved to be a cumulative piece powered along by Jah Wobble's indefatigable bass and Jansen's neo-Jaki Liebezeit pattern drumming. Joining them were Steve Cobby on unnecessary laptop, Balanescu, Robin Guthrie (contributing enjoyable guitar cloud), Nelson and Travis. This piece unfortunately sounded much too like Wobble's own Solaris ensemble (with whom Budd played) which I caught a few years ago. Budd was unfortunately semi-inaudible and seemed more like a guest at his own farewell than the core of the performance.

A mixed bag then, but Budd's solo medley and the first string quartet made it all more than worthwhile.

Colin Buttimer
Published by Me