Thursday, May 21, 2015

Rhiannon Giddens supported by Bhi Bhiman

21st May 2015, The Rio Theatre, Vancouver, Canada

Continuing my aim to find some live music to sample in every new city I visit, I added a new City and Country to the list where I’ve done so. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a local artist to listen to. Rhiannon Gibbens was on tour in Vancouver while I was there, and her music and the prospect of a gig in a working Cinema both intrigued me.

Bhi Bhinman with Rhiannon Giddens
Having managed to over come my lack of knowledge of Vancouver's transit system I was pleased to have made for the beginning of Bhi Bhiman’s set.

I’m not sure if Bhi usually plays with the support of a band – but to begin with he seams a little lost on stage – he soon overcame that – his witty lyrics and topics bring the best out of a growing audience. The highlight of the set was certainly when he was joined by Rhiannon on her fiddle.

Rhiannon, not to be confused for the more famous artist Rihanna, who may sell out stadiums, but has no more talent than the multi-instrumentalist on stage tonight, was given a rapturous welcome by an audience clearly aware of the treat they were in for.

The show included a few original numbers – but the highlights where the multitude of carefully and lovingly chosen covers of classic banjo numbers from the great history of American banjo playing – all given a modern Giddens’ twist.

One surprise was the almost entirely white audience – yet Rhiannon’s politics went down a storm – not surprising given Canada’s liberal reputation – but I’d have expected a more multi-cultural group– in London I’m sure the crowd will be much more diverse.
Rhiannon Giddens

Unfortunately working Cinemas, complete with seats, get my thumbs down for this type of gig – I’m sure there would have been more energy coming from the audience had we been standing, and personally it would have helped me fight off the effects of jet lag to be standing – a confortable cinema seat was a little too conducive to the sleep trying to take me over – I only nodded off briefly but the music soon revived me. Rhiannon’s music urged you to get up and move – but the seating discourage it…
I will be making every effort to catch Rhiannon when she plays at the Islington Assembly Hall in London on June 30th. I can highly recommend her to anyone who enjoys traditional banjo music with a modern twist – together with her band she brings out all that is good about the instrument.