July 22, 2009

Clint Mansell, Union Chapel 20th July 2009

First off, this is going to be the lamest review ever. So don’t get your hopes up. I have never been able to write about modern music the way I can write about games, films or literature. I shy from stylistic parallels (because I don’t hear them) and if there’s a standard vocabulary pack for music journos then I certainly don’t have it installed. I rely on phrases such as ‘‘They’re a fun band. I don’t know much more about them than that’’, and ‘‘Death Cab For Cutie are extremely worth listening to, I promise’’.


A week ago, a friend updated his Facebook status thus: “Arfie Mansfield¹ has a spare ticket for Clint Mansell at the Union Chapel on Monday, if anyone would care to join me.” I think of Clint Mansell as a Big. Name. for reasons entirely attributable to the fact that I also think of Darren Aronofsky as a Big. Name..

And sure enough, Aronofsky introduced the concert. I can’t really remember what he said, but he was hanging about beforehand and Andan Danndendund² approached him for an autograph and – I assume – a “I love your work” fan-ey squirt.

I kept drifting in and out of sleep during the concert, but it was the right music to do that to. Dramatic strings juxtaposed with sudden bursts of drums and techno, overlayed over overexposed American home-movie-style 60s (70s?) videos (projected with performers, providing the perfect packdrop) gave the discomfort of squashing my entirely normal-sized frame into a pew (a gig in a Church? Whatever next?) enough musical morphine to make up in some way for the inexplicable two hours of sleep I was attending on.

I’ve said almost nothing about the music.

Hello I am Clint Mansell. Skibbee dooby doo ba baahh!

There was a string quartet, a pianist, an invisible drummer, and the man himself, sitting at a laptop and mic in the middle with right+left hand men (guitarists).

They stopped and he talked about what they were going to play sometimes.

He justified the laptop thing. “I write in 1s and 0s”.

The other members were introduced.

Clint Mansell is a scouser.

The Cellist was a babe.

It was like a poetry reading. Stopping and starting with explanations and insights thrown into the mix.

We arrived at 7:30 and had to wait until 8:45 before it started, but we didn’t care.

There was a patronising standing ovation.

The strings were called Sonus Quartet.

All the old favourites were played, reminding us once again that Mansell must earn about £1million annually from royalties on The Apprentice alone.

And that’s your lot.

By Jim Miles³

¹Name not changed.
²Name changed.
³Name not changed.

- 13 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

[Skip to the latest comment]
  1. Danny

    If 99.99% of music writing started off with the sentence “first off, this is going to be the lamest review ever”, I would have less of a problem with 99.99% of music writing. And I’m speaking as someone who has tried dancing-about-architecture on a serious level more often than most and always failed. It’s difficult! It’s the most difficult. You have to be Nabokov Barthes Robbe-Grillet Pynchon Ballard Cage Eno McShakespeare on top of having extra-human listening power.

    Your style is better than pretty much anyone currently working for a broadsheet review section (actually, sorry, that sounds like faint praise). If you just learned a few clichés, you’d be in the club. Might I suggest “The strings were called Sonus Quartet (nope, me neither)”?

    Actually, if you ever use the “nope, me neither” cliché I’ll stop talking to you forever, at least until you have been showered with holy water for four days or been forced to read the entire works of Myles na gCopaleen, whichever is cheaper.

    This gig sounds pretty cool.

    22 Jul 2009, 13:25

  2. John

    Please! I’m still trying to get over the mental image of his bottie.

    22 Jul 2009, 14:12

  3. Danny

    “The cellist was a babe”

    22 Jul 2009, 21:42

  4. Nope! Me neither!!!!

    22 Jul 2009, 21:54

  5. Sue

    Last night I dreamt that I was pregnant, actually it was more like a nightmare. It was on eof those dreams when you feel total relief when you wake up. At first I thought what might have provoked it was the tea we had last night- I’d decided to make something special for my partner and he loves trout so I bought him an organic one. I even dealt with the head and tail although I did wash it in its container with my eyes closed. Anyway, he really enjoyed it, we had Jersey Royal new potatoes and asparagas and peas with it (I didn’t have the trout). He said “This is lovely” and I said” I scrubbed the potatoes by hand” and he said “You little scrubber.”

    23 Jul 2009, 07:10

  6. Danny

    Last night I dreamt that Sue jumped the shark.

    23 Jul 2009, 18:11

  7. I imagine the real Sue reading that and seething with rage at the stylistic liberties the ghost-writer has taken. The real Sue would never go for such a cheap punchline, the real Sue would never put in the conspicuously deliberate typos/spelling mistakes, and the real Sue would never get off her arse long enough to properly prepare a trout.

    It’s got to this embarrassing point where all that is left are the imitators, the real Sue having left long ago. It’s like the fake Batman at the beginning of The Dark Knight. Or the crappy one-liners that inferiors attribute to Steven Wright instead of claiming credit for, because they think it will increase the worth of their mediocrity. A hollow cacophony of “I’m Spartacus”. What it certainly isn’t, is the seamless transition of V to Eevee, a la V for Vendetta.

    RIP Sue, and let’s let her die in dignity, without the style-aping.

    And if the real Sue is reading this then do us all a favour and FUCK OFF.

    24 Jul 2009, 00:50

  8. Sue

    Give me one good reason why I should do you all a favour and I might consider it.

    24 Jul 2009, 07:53

  9. Desi Forums

    I don’t get it!

    24 Jul 2009, 09:39

  10. Clint Mansell is a scouser.

    Can someone shed some light on this? On reflection, I’m not sure I’m right. He might be a brummie, or even a manc.

    Give me one good reason why I should do you all a favour and I might consider it.

    It’s alright, we’re only messing about, on the presumption that you have spawned inferior imitators. Or inferimimators, if you will, which you won’t.

    25 Jul 2009, 22:24

  11. Arfie Mansfield

    He’s from Stourbridge (nope, me neither), or at least PWEI were, though I don’t know about where he was originally from though Wikipedia does, and now I do; it’s Coventry. And now you do.

    I have no idea who Sue is, nor who the allegedly-false Sue allegedly-isn’t.

    I take issue with the standing ovation line, since it’s my sentiment that you disagreed with.

    26 Jul 2009, 12:48

  12. Danny

    Arfie, here’s a brief lowdown:

    “Sue” is a frequent poster to several University of Warwick blogs who has gained a cult following (citation needed) due to her often rambling posts, most of which have only the thinnest connection with the subject at hand. It has been suggested that “Sue” is not actually a real person at all, but the comic creation of an anonymous prankster or troll). Some have even gone so far as to claim that she is the creation of a University of Warwick faculty member (citation needed).

    Recently, it has become something of a sport to write parodic comments in the style of “Sue”, whether under a different name (1) or posing as the “real” “Sue” (citation needed).

    27 Jul 2009, 12:35

  13. Danny

    Was it not Kronos Quartet that played alongside? The worked heavily on the ‘Requiem for a Dream’ soundtrack. They also have a lot of their own albums, I’m sure. Mansells latest work on the ‘Moon’ soundtrack is as impressive as any of his others. Where is Union Chapel any road?

    05 Aug 2009, 13:36

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