Writer Ellie Philpotts went along to enjoy this show at one of Cardiff’s oldest-new venues, Portland house, on Pallett’s final year of touring.
Owen Pallett has some impressive links. He’s collaborated heavily with indie-rock band Arcade Fire and worked with big deals such as The Pet Shop Boys; Linkin Park; Snow Patrol; Robbie Williams and even Taylor Swift, conducting her single The Last Time, from smash-hit 2012 album Red – which impressed me because I’m one big Taylor Swift fan. But away from these notable affiliations, Owen is a renowned name in his own right. Just last year, he was even Oscar-nominated, for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures – Original Score, for the film ‘Her.’ Basically, he’s a talented guy. And his Cardiff Bay show on 3 June at Portland House accurately reflected this.
The night was a success in every way. I was actually the first to arrive at Portland House (unusual for me, so I must’ve been eager!); got chatting to some interesting fellow solo gig-attendees; and revelled in the varying styles of the support acts. The opener, Scriber, a Welsh lad who describes himself as an ‘alt-folk presence’ (http://www.scriberofficial.com/) sang lovely lyrics such as ‘it’s hard to lose grip on something if you know you always have it’, paired with charming guitar twangs. To follow was King of Cats, a very unique band with loud beats, belting out refreshing tracks which included the line ‘I will not walk in the garden of Eden but I’ll die in the garden of eating.’ Makes a change from typical love-songs centred around human love, doesn’t it!
Then it was time for Owen. The man, the legend. He had stage presence, asking the audience direct questions – he was asked whether he’d sampled a ‘cheeky Vimto’, which apparently is a local delicacy, although the Welsh man next to me dismissed this notion, having never heard of it. Demonstrating that Canadians can have flawless knowledge of British culture, Owen replied that he hadn’t, but he had heard of ‘cheeky Nandos.’ Fortunately, a cheeky Nandos does indeed sit right round the corner from this venue in Cardiff Bay, so maybe that’s where he headed afterwards to celebrate a successful show! Although, his status as fitting in with us Cardiffians did slip up when he enquired if there even is a Welsh language. But his music was so good, we’ll forgive him.
Owen isn’t to my usual style, but I was genuinely blown away by his skill. He turns what it means to be a violinist on its head – exciting fast-paced beats teamed with a brilliant voice, and this wasn’t the extent of his instrument-playing – he was no stranger to the keyboard either. The Secret Seven was my favourite of his tracks – he described it as ‘a song about not killing yourself, but about killing someone else instead!’ Only figuratively, I should add as a disclaimer. I also appreciated how he played recordings of his music on loop to compliment the live performance. All in all, a very interesting perspective on that wide thing called ‘music.’ I can see why he’s such an in-demand musician!
After the satisfied audience began to bid a sad farewell to Portland House (in a move mirrored by Owen, as this was one of his final ever tour dates, let alone in the UK!), I was lucky enough to meet the face of the show himself. We had a photo – excuse the lighting – strong lights at gigs just aren’t atmospheric, don’t y’know! Owen is not only a fantastic performer, but also a lovely guy, so I’m sure I speak for many others in saying that Cardiff will miss him!
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