I was looking over the list of live music I'd seen this year and realised that avante-garde composer William Basinski was actually last year and I had forgotten to write about it!
In November 2022, Basinski headlined a night of performances which otherwise featured folk from the venue's "Arists in Residence" programme, with some affiliation to Newcastle's DIY music scene.
Unfortunately we arrived too late to catch any of the other acts: partly because of the venue's sometimes doggiest insistence that people can only enter or leave the halls during intervals, and partly because the building works surrounding it had made the southern entrance effectively closed, so we had to walk to the north side of the building to get in1.
Basinski was performing work from Lamentations. Basinski himself presented very unexpectedly to how I imagined him: he's got the Texas drawl, mediated through a fair amount of time spent in New York; very camp, in a glittery top; he kicked off the gig complaining about how tired he was, before a mini rant about the state of the world, riffing on a title from the album: Please, This Shit Has Got To Stop.
We were in Hall 1, the larger of the two, and it was sparsely attended; a few people walked out mid performance. My gig-buddy Rob (a useful barometer for me on how things have gone) remarked that it was one of the most unique and unusual gigs he'd been to. I recognised snatches of the tracks from the album, but I'm hard-placed to name or sequence them, and they flowed into each other. I don't know how much of what we were hearing was "live" or what, if anything, was being decided during the performance, but Basinski's set-up included what looked like archaic tape equipment, with exposed loops of tape running between spools that could be interfered with by other tools.
The encore was a unique, unreleased mix of Melancholia (II), which (making no apologies) Basinski hit play on before retiring backstage.
I didn't take any photos. From memory, I think the venue had specifically stated filming or photos were not allowed for this performance. People at prior shows in New York and London filmed some of their shows; which were substantially similar: I've included embeds of them above.
and his best-known work, The Disintegration Loops.
- I don't want to speak ill of the venue, though: The Sage, as it was, and the Glasshouse, as it is now known, has ended up being the venue I've attended most this year (2023), and it's such a civilised place: plenty of bars, great drinks selection (both alcoholic and not, hot and cold), loads of clean toilets, a free cloakroom, fantastic accoustics, polite staff; the list goes on.↩