This delivers us into a corner of Fergus McCreadie’s living room: the performance conventions of livestream gig etiquette are still evolving but Fergus manages to give us an unaffectedly warm welcome to camera and launches into ‘Ardbeg’ from his debut album. The exigencies of the moment have deprived Fergus of his band and relegated him to an electronic keyboard but he overcomes both these restrictions: the Celtic tonality of the melody builds naturally into a series of rippling arpeggios delivered with very precise time and articulation, rising and falling like a Scottish landscape. McCreadie has a nice line in relaxed candid chat, reacting to the live comments drifting up the screen before treating us to his as yet unreleased composition ‘Across Flatlands’, which uses a similarly static harmonic base to create an impressionistic colour piece, affording ample opportunity for an impressive display of two handed independence, speed and precision. ‘Mull’ is a romantic rubato ballad well suited for the occasion and his commitment and emotional intensity survives the journey across the 4G network to sound genuinely affecting.
Rob Luft is quarantined with his pedal-board and his partner Elena Duni, and together they break into an original arrangement of a traditional Albanian song. Duni’s voice soars in plaintive melody over Luft’s precise, rhythmically intricate accompaniment: he uses his loop pedal to add chords and counterpoint, and his clean tone and precise articulation mean that every part is clear and distinct. Next there’s an original co-composition, a folk-tinged ballad with Elena’s voice clear and emotionally resonant: Rob delivers a superb solo, using his effects to conjure up a giant reverb and magically appearing volume swell chords.
There’s another Albanian tune, perfectly suited to Rob’s ingenious multi-part voicings: his use of eastern-sounding ornamentation echoes Elena’s vocal inflections without sounding trite or superficial, and his finger-tapping technique creates a verdant forest of notes around Elena’s direct, emotional but unsentimental delivery. Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Couleur Cafe’ gets a bouncy Caribbean flavoured reading that makes a perfect session sign off. There’s a real match with McCreadie, both in the exploration of folk traditions and in the mix of emotional directness and precise delivery.
Let’s hope that Georgia Cécile has music-loving, appreciative neighbours, as the power of her unamplified voice must be rattling the windows as it rises to a climactic held note on her original ‘Heartbeaks’. Sensitively accompanied by her pianist partner, who also contributes some nicely judged solos; she turns in a bravura performance of standards and originals, undaunted by the artificiality of the situation. ‘Come Summertime’ swings like the clappers, her stream-of-consciousness original is genuinely moving, and her finale on Billy Taylor’s ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free’ is as heartfelt as it is apposite. It’s a fitting end to the mini-gig series.
Love Supreme chose the Instagram Live feature to broadcast this evening’s performances. While the platform allows each video to stay up for 24 hours, its time-restricted format and interactive facility does convey the immediacy of the performance quite well. However, it’s only available on mobile devices, which means that we’re stuck on vertical mode (much to the annoyance of one gentleman in the audience who sends out a series of increasingly tetchy demands for ‘landscape’ format before quitting), and perhaps accounts for what seems like a low audience take-up given the popularity of Love Supreme and the superb quality of the performances delivered tonight. The livestream is an evolving form and lessons are being learned along the way.