by Ian Mann
March 22, 2020
In these days of isolation Ian Mann, together with an online audience of music fans, enjoys a concert length Livestream broadcast performance by the Fergus McCreadie Trio.
Fergus McCreadie Trio, Livestream, Stephen Henderson’s Kitchen, Dalrymple, Scotland, 21/03/2020.
Fergus McCreadie – piano, David Bowden – double bass, Stephen Henderson – drums, percussion
With all live jazz performances temporarily suspended due to the Covid-19 crisis enterprising musicians have been turning to the internet to present their music and to continue to connect with their audiences in these troubled times.
One such was the young Scottish pianist and composer Fergus McCreadie who gathered with his trio in the kitchen of drummer Stephen Henderson’s house to present a ninety minute ‘Livestream’ performance that was available via Facebook and Instagram.
Advertising the event on his Facebook page McCreadie had emphasised the importance of “connectiveness” and of the importance of music in bringing people together and of the “warmth and oneness” it can generate.
I’m aware that many other musicians have been doing something similar and I’ve always been a bit sceptical and dismissive about watching music on computer – I’ve never found Youtube footage to be a satisfactory substitute for the thrill of a real live performance.
However having recently seen the McCreadie trio give an exceptional performance at Black Mountain Jazz in Abergavenny and with the prospect of no ‘in person’ gigs in the foreseeable future I decided to give this “Livestream” thing a go.
I have to say that despite my reservations I was very glad that I did. Fergus and his colleagues approached the performance with the same seriousness that they’d approach an ‘in person’ show in a jazz club or theatre, playing their all original music with skill, feeling and intensity.
Tonight’s Livestream was a first for the trio and in the true spirit of jazz there was a sense of spontaneity and of doing things ‘on the fly’. This was more appropriate to the camera work rather than the music. The smallness of the location made it difficult for the person behind the camera (Scott Henderson, presumably related to Stephen) to fit all three band members into a single shot. Thus the visual coverage wasn’t quite up to ‘made for TV’ standards but this hardly seemed to matter given the quality of the musical performance and of the sound itself. Even on my tiny laptop the trio sounded absolutely terrific, with an excellent balance between the three instruments. Of necessity McCreadie was obliged to use an electric keyboard on an acoustic piano setting, but even so he sounded totally convincing, soloing with a Jarrett-like intensity and inventiveness.
Of course it was strange to hear no applause at the end of each number, especially when the performances were so praiseworthy, yet there was still the sense of being part of an audience. I was watching on Facebook along with another two hundred or so other people, many of whom offered comments of support as the music progressed, along with the usual ‘like’ and ‘love’ hashtags.
Despite being in isolation I still felt as if I were among friends as a real sense of community developed with audience members bouncing comments, all of them supportive, back and forth between themselves. Indeed some of the other members of this ‘virtual’ audience were known to me, my wife Pam was watching on a separate device and we noticed that our friend Paul Mapp, who was introduced to the trio’s music at that Abergavenny show, was also listening in.
I also recognised the names of several promoters who had hosted the trio at their clubs in more normal times, Jez Matthews of Jazz at The Lescar in Sheffield, Debs Hancock of Black Mountain Jazz and Paul Pace of the Spice of Life in Soho, London.
At the end of ninety or so minutes of marvellous music from Fergus and the trio I really did have the same warm and appreciative feeling that I experience after a good gig, and a sense that time had been suspended for an hour and a half.
In his Facebook trailer for the performance McCreadie observed “ If you can forget where you are for even just a minute and be tied to the moment, then that is an incredibly affirming thing”. And watching this Livestream performance and knowing that I was doing so in the company of like minded people all over the country, and possibly the wider world too, certainly did this for me.
The ballad “An Old Friend” seemed to have particular emotional resonance in the current circumstances. Elsewhere there was some terrific playing that embraced everything from Celtic influenced melody to powerful E.S.T. style dynamics. The trio had even solicited requests and the performance closed with one of these, the McCreadie original “The Old Harbour”. A call for Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” didn’t materialise, although it would have been interesting to see this highly original young trio tackling a standard.
However I don’t intend this to be a blow by blow account of a Fergus McCreadie Trio live concert performance. You’ll have to go to my review of the Abergavenny show for that. Link here;
Thank you to Fergus, David and Stephen and to all my fellow ‘virtual audience’ members for making my first Livestream Experience so memorable. I’ll certainly be tuning in again when any of my favourite artists are going to be performing in this format and I’d urge anybody likely to be reading this to do the same. Let’s support musicians in this time of crisis by tuning into these Livestreams and by purchasing their music and merchandise on line.
Their full Livestream performance is available to view at McCreadie’s Facebook page and at the time of writing, on the day immediately following transmission, it has attracted an incredible 4.344 views. To watch please visit; https://www.facebook.com/fergusmccreadiepianist/
Tonight, 22nd March 2020, at 8.00 pm McCreadie is due to undertake another Livestream broadcast alongside vocalist Luca Manning, with the pair doubtless performing songs from their recently released début album “When The Sun Comes Out”. Guess I’ll be tuning in again.
If other musicians wish to send me details of forthcoming Livestream broadcasts maybe I can look at setting up some kind of alternative ‘gigs and events’ page.
In the meantime I’d urge other music fans to give Livestream a go. Thanks to the Fergus McCreadie Trio I’m definitely a convert.
blog comments powered by Disqus