December 10 2009
I’ve been watching live music for four decades now, and the one thing that still gets my goat is background noise – in particular, the ceaseless chatter that forms an irksome and distracting hubbub at almost every gig I go to. Some performers such as Antony and the Johnsons have made special requests before their shows, asking punters to keep quiet; most, however, just battle on against the rising tide of yakking from people who seem to treat concerts as a chance to catch up on gossip.
Now comes a fightback, of sorts, in the shape of Shh – an all-day celebration of “quiet music” taking place next month at Cecil Sharp House in Regent’s Park, north London. The main hall of this fine 1930s building – which serves as the headquarters for the English Folk Dance and Song Society – is a lovely warm woody place to hear music, and this event will feature an impressive roster of singers and musicians whose music is not always quiet, but who expect their audiences to pay them the courtesy of shushing while they sing and play.
Among them is Sam Amidon (pictured), a rather odd American folkie singer whose music is peppered by haunting silences; I saw him a while back at St James’s Church in Piccadilly, London, and at times the only sound was that of people shifting on their seats. Others appearing will be the soulful singer David Thomas Broughton, while pianist and composer Jon Hopkins will bring an electronic dimension to the day. Oh, and if you want to talk, there’s a very nice bar downstairs.
Tickets for the event, which takes place from 1pm on January 23, are £13.75.