Live at the Wellington Opera House
Less a review, more a public service announcement, Rhian Sheehan has released his first live album, and it’s a name-your-price download from Bandcamp.
Released near the end of last year it’s taken from the amazing live show at the end of 2013. I was there on the night, to hear the perfect blend of live string section and band atmospherics. The guitar treatments of Jakob’s Jeff Boyle, Steve Bremner’s drums and the stately piano of Raashi Malik all building up and bubbling over from the synth lines and soundscapes created by Sheehan and the solo cello of Jane Pierard.
The setlist combined material from the Stories From Elsewhere and Standing In Silence albums – and though the live show was impactful with visuals and felt like a true multi-media experience the star of the night was the music. So to have it in your pocket or on your computer or home stereo now, a couple of years on and sans visuals, is a new experience. No loss as such, in fact it’s something special to have this music in this form, away from the ‘Show’ aspect.
Highlights include the slow-searing build of Imber, the filmic Nusquam and The Upper Sky and of course the pieces from Standing in Silence (Parts 4, 10 and 13).
Sheehan’s early electronica is gone from the palette, replaced by not merely the ambition but the track-record now as Serious Composer. But there is still something of that early work lingering as informant, as touchstone, if not for the artist than for the audience. In a truly magical way his music is a form of classical/instrumental that works in front of a crowd more likely reared on rock and dance musics. And this was a stunning show at the time and brings with it happy memories in listening again. Of course if you missed the show that’s no barrier of entry to enjoying this live album as its own experience.