September 26 2010
It was one of the silliest, most enjoyable and most thrilling nights I can recall: an evening spent last year in the company of the Spaghetti Western Orchestra, five musicians who perform the theme tunes to the classics of that fabulous cinematic genre – A Fistful of Dollars, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, and so on. Now they’re back, for four nights on London’s Southbank, and I cannot recommend them highly enough.
What’s so impressive about their show is that this is no mere recital. On a bewildering array of instruments and implements, these guys, dressed in authentic Wild West gear, recreate the sound effects and the dialogue, as well as the music, from those famously taciturn, windswept films; so, as well as bass, a suitably twangy guitar, drums and keyboards, they also “play” around 100 other items, among them whisky bottles, nail clippers, apples, an asthma inhaler, and a rubber glove. (The sound of a man in boots tramping across gravel is recreated with a packet of cornflakes.) Basically, it’s a homage to the spaghetti western, but a droll, immaculately timed and brilliantly executed comedy skit, too.
And the remarkable thing about the men in the Orchestra is that they hail, not from somewhere way out west, or even from the US, but from Australia, where they began life as the Ennio Morricone Experience (after the man who composed most of the great spaghetti western themes); now they tour the globe with their remarkable show. This autumn, as well as visiting London, they are touring Finland and France; see their website for details.