Lyceum Variety Nights from Flint & Pitch hosted by Jenny Lindsay and Sian Bevan have with this third event (and final Lyceum Variety Night of Season 2016/17) attracted a core audience across a large age group that seem more than happy to support the multi-performance genre and showcase format of this production. As always with any show format like this there will be performers that are more to your taste than others, but there is always something worth finding at a Lyceum Variety Night.
Writing a review for a show like this is always difficult as there are just so many performers that giving fair space to everyone would just produce a rather long and dull review, so best I think to concentrate on some personal favourites from the evening overall.
Opening and closing the show, one of the most distinctive sounds I have heard in a long time - Maud The Moth. Originally founded as the solo project for singer and pianist from Madrid, Amaya López-C, and evolving through several musical partnerships, the core of the current line-up now includes Paúl González on drums. Maud The Moth is more of a musical performance collective exploring a vast range of musical styles and influences than a fixed concept band, and music such as “Ignis fatuus” and “Queen Maud” performed tonight remind me a lot of the early experimental sounds of an early Velvet Underground with Nico. These are musicians that I am going to have to explore in a lot more depth over the coming months I think, and a good place to start for their music is here https://maudthemoth.bandcamp.com/album/home-futile-home
Interesting music too from folk rock duo The Miss's aka Audrey Tait and Michelle Low. An interesting combination of talent and vocals and their latest album Crash was released with a headline show at this year's Celtic Connections. The Miss’s made an interesting contrast to the far more traditional Scottish roots and sounds of Mairi Campbell and proved that there really are no boundaries in music, that the music itself will take artists wherever it wants to take them.
Spoken word is always a firm part of any Lyceum Variety Night, and Kieran Hurley, Caroline Bird and Kathleen Jamie each provided completely different aspects of its use in their performance. For myself, Kathleen Jamie seemed to have an almost magical way of putting words together in poetry, capturing wonderfully what many of us fail to notice in the world around us, and all with a wonderful economy of words.
Performance dance took its first steps onto the variety stage tonight with a new work from Jack Webb. I think to be fair to Jack that the constraints that the Variety Nights work under (using the same set space as whatever is the current theatrical production at The Lyceum and amidst mic stands etc) was not the best performance space to experience this work and it would be interesting to see this work performed again in a more specific space.
As always, an entertaining and interesting compilation of performance artists. The biggest surprise of the evening however was not what was there, but what was not there. I woke up this morning to more headlines of more senseless loss of life and senseless injuries to many people in the London attacks, and following so swiftly on the atrocity of the Manchester Arena attacks, I was surprised that there was no comment on either of these events. Instead we were welcomed into our own little bubble world of safe and happy performance theatre. While I accept that many people may not want to be reminded of the cruel world outside and just switch off for a few hours at a show, I felt that some comment at least was expected, as the previous two shows I have been to did seem to have a sharp political and social commentary element to them that was never far from the performance surface. The senseless loss of life and continual injury to innocent people perpetrated by any individual, group, government or nation needs to be commented on ….whatever your objectives or perceived reasons behind them, this is not the way to go on, this senseless violence must stop. I make this point here because history has clearly shown that whenever and wherever extreme religious or political ideologies take control, the freedom of the spoken word and the written word (the very core of performance here on stage) are the first expressions to be closed down, and theatres and performers are often the first in line for this censorship. Individually we can only be a whisper against all that is happening across the world, but if enough of us whisper that things must stop, that things must change, then that whisper becomes a very loud voice that is very difficult to silence again.
Review by Tom King