Saturday we dragged ourselves along to The Victoria Hall to see The Spaghetti Western Orchestra (formerly known as The Ennio Morricone Experience – a better name as far as I’m concerned). Part comedy troupe / musicians, they play the music of Morricone whilst also indulging in the sort of sound effects that made the films great. If you ever want to know what it’s like to see a man play a packet of cornflakes then this is the evening for you.
Whilst the music & showmanship is top notch, the wonderful thing for me was the scores themselves – in particular those from “Once Upon A Time In The West”, and the romanticism of them. These days many film scores feel by the numbers affairs, especially when they utilise orchestra rather than other means. The really interesting soundtracks these days have moved away from the orchestra, perhaps realising that they were all beginning to sound alike. Hell, even the grand old men like Williams & Elfman seem to be pale pastiche of what they used to be.
Morricone, perhaps wisely, seemed to have retired from producing scores for Hollywood at the beginning of the century and certainly isn’t as prolific as he once was, being able to pick and choose his own projects. As such there isn’t the element of going over old ground, although with soundtracks as diverse as Dollars, The Mission & Wolf (listen to the ballet theme from it as to how different he really can be) there was a lot to cover.
Anyway, the night fixed solely on his western output, all played with a genuine sense of affection by a quintet who clearly love the genre as much as the music itself. There’s a certain demented appeal to seeing a man pretend to be strangled as another performer rips apart a cabbage on the other side of the stage. If you get the chance to see them (they performed at last years Proms, which is where we first saw them) then they come recommended – even if you don’t like the presentation (and I think it would be difficult not to be charmed by them) you can always just close your eyes and listen to the music.