Rated 5 out of
THE BLACKHEART ORCHESTRA KILLINGHALL 18 MAY 2019
A little touch of stardust powdered the lovely Killinghall Village Hall last week when the outstandingly talented Blackheart Orchestra paid a visit to play their songs to listeners old and (mostly) new on their Mesmernto tour.
The Blackheart Orchestra are in fact two in number only, but make a sound much fuller than you could imagine. This is down to the multiple skills of Rick Pilkington and Chrissy Mostyn, and great use of the wide variety of instruments available – guitars, percussion, keys, bass, even an old Omnichord, and a rather formidable percussion stick occasionally given a fearful whack by the impish Chrissy when she wasn’t enchanting the crowd with her peerless, evocative voice. Rick provides great vocal harmony and plays superbly well, tactile but always with great sensitivity. So too does Chrissy but with added bonus. Chrissy simply sings like she dines each day on ambrosia and nectar.
The band have, consciously or otherwise, struck gold – now at the cusp of their creativity, able to create moving, quite complex pieces of music with a singular clarity of vision. I have sometimes wondered why they are able to connect so easily with new listeners and it struck me tonight that there are perhaps three reasons why: their very obvious musical talent (they draw the listener in from the very first note), their lovely, lovely personalities (happy as ever to natter away to anyone and as genuine as Betty Turpin’s hotpot), but most of all (well I think anyway), because they are a duo.
Because of this, I think there’s a purity to the music that is rarely found : I don’t think for example that a five or six piece band would achieve this because there’d be too many influences pulling against each other, whereas too many solo artists have a tendency towards introspection that doesn’t always serve them too well. With the Blackheart Orchestra, you get the best of both worlds: songs which, even new to the ear – and most of tonight’s audience were tasting their first experience – connect instantly. That’s a winning position to be in.
The songs themselves have every ingredient you could ask for – from driving rhythms like Drown Me Out, through the fragile delicacy of Not Over Yet, to the spirited drama of Darling Africa and then quiet reflection in Never Do, Do I, and exquisite sweetnesses of Violet, and Ennikur – each song telling its own tale with a rare turn of phrase, yet never once turning the audience away from the journey.
Bottom line is, every single person there had a great night which when you get right down to it is all you can ask for, really, and the response when Rick asked if folk would come again was universal and genuine. I so hope the band did, too, because they deserve every success – they really do.
Date published: 2019-06-29