One of the nicest aspects of being a National Treasure, is that one is often asked to participate in events that would otherwise be closed to one as an ordinary member of the public. This is especially nice when, like me, you're a National Treasure who is known only to a small handful of loyal (and quite probably deranged and tweet happy) followers. My appearance at the Olympic Opening Ceremony, for instance, barely warranted a mention in most of the national media - which would have been a very different matter, I can tell you, had I not awoken from a Bostik induced 'interlude' just long enough to take evasive action and steer the chopper away from Buckingham Palace. No Christmas card from the Craigs for another year is a *small* price to pay compared with the burden that might have been placed on the Civil List. Believe me, Gary Numan's *welcome* to the Commonwealth gig.
But I digress. So, you'll imagine my surprise and delight, I'm sure, when I received a missive from the bods over at the South Bank Centre asking me if I'd be kind enough to curate next year's Meltdown Festival for them. It's a good job they posted the invitation rather than cold calling as my initial reaction was to tell them to pee off and find someone else to raise the profile of mental health issues in the UK. I have enough trouble keeping my own bonce off the ceiling as a result of several decades of adhesive blowback, never mind trying to stop other people having a bit of a wobbler. When Generation Snowflake have spent three months adhered to the control room of Conny Plank's Kling Klang studio with not so much as a stale frankfurter to keep body and soul together, *then* they can complain.
Anyway, and fortunately, I eventually googled it all on the interweb and found out that it was actually quite a cool thing to be involved with. I imagine many of you were as oblivious as me, so basically the gist of Meltdown is that each year they invite increasingly obscure and niche artistes to put together a month long series of cultural events around the South Bank Centre that no one goes to and, obviously, by the law of averages, someday it was bound to be my turn - especially as Larry Grayson had apparently not been contactable...and so on and so forth.
So what else could I say but, "gear whack - stick the corporate contactless in me willing mitt and you'll have a bill they'll still be purring over by the time Sacha Distell starts his Meltdown in 2019" - well, assuming they let him in. So, without further ado, here's the full programme:
Sir Harrison Birtwistle
Harry and I go back years. In fact, it was in Paris, many years ago, that Harry said something that really opened up the idea for me of doing something musical for a living. "Music is like knitting, Kenneth...", he told me - often confusing me with the young Kenneth Connor who, it would appear, was one of the few aspects of modern popular culture he was in any way acquainted with - the other being Jim Bowen's Bullseye, which he would watch avidly, crying all the way through each show before excusing himself and spending an inordinately long time in the lavatory, quietly sobbing. And that was it. "Music is like knitting, Kenneth..." and then silence as he went back to his work, transcribing a particularly radical and atonal new cardigan.
For my Meltdown, Harry will be conducting a small chamber ensemble through a new set of specially commissioned works based on the songs of Peters & Lee.
Eno at the ENO
I'm surprised that no one else has thought of this one. But now, finally, the world will get to hear the collaboration they've been waiting centuries for. Haven't we all wondered what the libretto of HMS Pinnafore would sound like looped and put through a lengthy chain of delays, reverbs, oscillators and other various effects, then slowed down by a quarter and fed back on itself?? Well, wait no longer. I certainly can't!
Lorry Anderson at the Royal Festival Hall
I'm really quite excited about this one too. What better way to communicate the horrors of modern global migration than a performance piece centred around Laurie Anderson spending a whole month creating 'an artistic environment' in an 80 foot long Norbert Dentressangle articulated lorry packed with displaced families from sub-Saharan Africa and parked in the foyer of the RFH? OK, I know, there must be millions. But Laurie couldn't come up with a better pun than that in the brief time we had on Skype to discuss the piece and then had to rush off as she remembered she'd left a timbale in the microwave.
No idea what this up-and-coming rabble of riotous street punk pranksters actually sound like, but with a name like that, they've got to be good haven't they? Haven't they?
Anyway, enjoy the shows. And a massive thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered 'Skyhorse' - you should get your copies to download early on Monday morning, assuming I can remember to press the 'release' button...
LUV on y'all,