I enjoy "fine dining", presenting programs on radios 4MBS, MBS Light and 4RPH and going to drama and music at Brisbane theatres.
Published January 29th 2019
There was a buzz of excitement before the concert. After all, this was the musician who was mentored for a decade by Yehudi Menuhin, and who acknowledges that without that schooling he would never have reached the top so soon, if ever.
This is the top selling classical musician of all time, with his recording of "The Four Seasons", and surely one of a very select few whose remarks at Last Night of the Proms were censored – they were less than enthusiastic about Israel. Or about conductors, it seems ... "no one normal understands what the conductor does. No one knows what they do! They just wave their arms out of time."
As a fourteen-year-old, he played with Grapelli, which taught him "you don't have to be serious to be spiritual. You can have a smile on your face. Ravi smiled a lot too." You name them, he's played with them. Technical perfectionism combined with irreverent joie de vivre. That's Nigel Kennedy.
A passionate socialist, he is eloquent in his abhorrence of Brexit – if it passes, he declares, he will live in Germany.
Kennedy cuts his own hair, and appears not to be as skilled with the scissors as he is with a bow or on the piano.
He appears on stage wearing an Aston Villa soccer shirt, as do several of his supporting musicians. After a conversation with some of the front row, and after a slurp from one of their drinks, he begins to play Bach.
He sees Bach as one of the last classical musicians also to be an improviser, and certainly this is Bach as we have not experienced him before – passion, melody and attack, at times filling the Concert Hall with wonderful rich sound, at times, on his own, taking the sound skywards and so softly that one can sense the entire audience straining to catch the sound.
Just so we will come back, he says (as if we were contemplating anything else) they'll give us a fore-taste of Gershwin.
Which led to the audience virtually dancing out.
For this aged reviewer, the highlight of the evening was the Gershwin, as Kennedy the pianist and Kennedy the violinist also showcased his supporting musicians and their joy in improvising around the Gershwin themes was palpable.
I wasn't quite sure why the two-seater settees were on stage up to that point, when Kennedy lay on one, continuing to play.
How do you follow that?
With something in one sense simple, but spellbindingly beautiful. I have heard "Danny Boy" many, many times, but never like this.
Larrakin, shit-stirrer, professional bad boy, showman. Kennedy may be all of those things. But first and foremost, musician.