Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Monday 29 September 2008

I've been tangoed..

I suppose it's a commonplace in a lot of cities that people who live there tend not to take full advantage of everything that's going on: daily routine takes over so easily, especially in London with its long commuting times.

I don't have that much of an excuse for never having been - in ten years - to a performance at our local performance space - a converted Presbyterian chapel - (since I've been to the café upstairs often enough). It's only about five minutes' walk away, but somehow nothing ever quite caught my eye there: until this weekend, when I saw (another advantage of going past on a bike rather than a bus) that there would be someone singing tango songs by Carlos Gardel and Astor Piazzolla.

Years ago, I got the chance of a business trip to Buenos Aires. I'm not sure I'd want to go back again (the diet seemed almost entirely meat-based - a pasty for starters, a huge slice of roast beef for a main dish: by the end of the week I'd have killed for a lettuce leaf), but it was an adventure, and I was especially taken by the "proper" tango music. They even had a TV channel devoted solely to tango lessons and performances, and not the kind of ballroom tango that's been so easily sent up in TV comedies.

Of course, I'm far too English to imagine ever being able to dance it (it's quite enough to hang on to the idea of playing the spoons as my fantasy someday talent), but that doesn't take away from the enjoyment of listening to it. Unfortunately something about the performance (maybe the space and the acoustic, but probably trying to present them as art songs with just a voice/piano combination) didn't quite get the tension and emotion across last night. Maybe it all depends on the contrast between the bandoneon and sweet and swooping strings:

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