It was June 19 and we were going to the midnight set of The Courtyard Revue — part of the Luminato Festival — curated by the wonderful Jason Collett with help from our own Damian Rogers (Anansi’s new Poetry Editor). We were tired and Lisa was wondering what her publisher had got her into. I have to admit that I was feeling like it just might be a bad idea… but then, but then —
I’ll let Lisa tell you the rest.
Patrick Watson at the Luminato Festival: packed room, almost midnight. The bodies of all those musicians jostling against each other on the small stage; wedging a shoulder forward to reach the mic. Drawing back to make room for someone else to get in there.
Crowd on the dance floor pressed tight. Summer heat, cold beer.
The music builds voice by voice, instrument by instrument.
Someone plays the saw, a warbling, weltering tremolo. The saw is one of those musical instruments, like the theremin, or a finger encircling the rims of wet wine glasses, that sounds eerily like a human voice. Those instruments are part gimmick, or party trick, faux-folksy, but self-aware, and part mystery or magic. They are rumoured to have a supernatural abilities. They can intoxicate, seduce, enchant, summon ghosts, provoke visions.
The percussion starts up, a gently parodic beat, like the galloping of horses in a black-and-white Western, a galloping that morphs into an urban synthesized lament.
Three women belt out harmonies with strong but delicate voices.
And then Patrick Watson. A high, clear, sweet voice, full of emotion. Joy.
The harmony is so crafted and spontaneous sounding, the beauty of it even surprises the singers themselves, and Patrick Watson giggles. Throwing his head back, laughing in the middle of the song, unselfconscious and uncontainable. The laughter is a kind of singing.
Overhead, on a balcony, a big brass horn, warm tones, heliotropic, blazing out, and everybody turns and looks up over their shoulders in the same direction, all at once.