fri 19/07/2019

Chilly Gonzales, Brighton Festival 2019 review - an intimate and exhilarating evening | reviews, news & interviews

Chilly Gonzales, Brighton Festival 2019 review - an intimate and exhilarating evening

Chilly Gonzales, Brighton Festival 2019 review - an intimate and exhilarating evening

The perfect evening of piano for sheer pleasure

Showmanship in all forms - from classics to pop mashups

Chilly Gonzales sits for so long at the piano, in his smoking jacket and slippers, before commencing his first song that I wonder if this is a John Cage moment. It’s a stark contrast to his energy at the end of the gig, where Chilly (real name, Jason Beck) is stamping both feet in marching motion, his whole body hunched and rocking, hair flicking as he pounds the low keys with virtuosic intensity.

Turns out he is quite an extreme person. He's silent and focused in his opening pieces – a series of medleys from three solo piano albums that date from 2004, which move on to giggle-inducing rap swept along by cello (Stella Le Page) and drum (Joe Flory), all interspersed with taking the piss out of his audience.

He pauses between pieces to turn and chat, amiably, personally to the audience, teaching them about his musical style, how he composes (constantly) and asking that we don’t disappoint each other during the gig.

Chilly is charming. He plays like a dream, tender revels punctuated with comic smacks in the high notes, rolling through enchanting melodies to mesmerising jazz and riffs that recall Schubert. His later work – composed when he took a year off, took away the audience, a time he describes as becoming an artist as opposed to an entertainer – demonstrates the evolution of his musical style, ever more comfortable with discomfort, not trying to solve every harmony or take out the dissonant notes. Sometimes they stay in there and feel at odds with the nice neo-romanticism, stinging the air, hard to reconcile. Because, says Chilli, sometimes you have to accept that life isn’t always harmony and melody. And that’s OK.

He plays crowd-pleasing favourites – “Be Natural”, “Cello Gonzales”, “So-Called Party Over There”, “The Grudge”, “Night Moves”. There is a mash-up of Nirvana and Britney Spears in the style of Bach. His pieces are filled with chromatic runs, lightning fast scale walks and insanely fast repeated notes right up at the top. This is sheer musical joy; piano for pleasure – and he seems to be enjoying sharing it with the audience as much as they love listening to it. It’s the perfect antidote to life’s bum notes – and the most enjoyably cathartic way to reconcile dissonance with harmony.

He plays like a dream, tender revels punctuated with comic smacks in the high notes

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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