Vixen Of The Violin: The Anna Phoebe Column (No. 5)
This week Anna Phoebe rehearses for some serious Shakespearean rock’n'roll action – and gets to wear some of Primark’s finest budget clothing for a hip-hop show with N Dubz! There’s also a canine update… and news of Anna’s mysterious stalker. Click here to read previous columns.
London, April 18, 2010
‘Everything paling away into the murk. The soft ash blowing in loose swirls over the blacktop… Cars in the street caked with ash, everything covered with ash and dust… The wet gray flakes twisting and falling out of nothing…’
These lines are not my own, of course – I just finished reading the incredibly desolate and harrowing book The Road by Cormac McCarthy. The bleak, apocalyptic predictions seemed a little out of place with the blue skies and spring sunshine finally reaching our little isle… until Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted and spewed out clouds of ash which are currently hovering in our airspace. Maybe we shouldn’t have asked for our money back?
With flights grounded until further notice, it has given me another chance to take in the delights that London has to offer. Last Monday I went to the press night of an avant garde physical concert called Micro at the lovely Gate Theatre in Notting Hill. Quite entertaining and some interesting ideas; basically four musicians who do weird acrobatic and mime stuff, and then break into electro-indie punk music now and then. However, there was enough self-indulgence which made me think of teenagers at drama camp trying to do something ‘deep and meaningful’. And not in a good way. But there were some really fun and original ideas. For more details go to www.gatetheatre.co.uk
The whole idea of music mixing with theatre is interesting – and something I’ll be doing in May at the Almeida Theatre. I’ve been asked to do three shows with a guy called Tim Arnold who I met randomly 10 years ago. I was walking through Soho when a guy wearing a white shirt, tight black trousers and bowler hat carrying a guitar case came running up to me and asked if I play the violin. (Like I mentioned in one of my earlier columns: if you want to give complete strangers an excuse to start a conversation with you, carry a violin case.) I ended up jamming with him that night at Soho Arts Club, and we did a couple of gigs together but I hadn’t seen him since. In the last two years he has recorded an album called Sonnet 155 which mixes Shakespeare and music.
Tim wrote a bunch of letters to prestigious theatre actors, asking them about themes in Shakespeare which best describe the human condition. The album is inspired by their responses and the music is a mix of heavy rock and classical.
The theatre show is going to be interesting! The band includes Primal Scream’s drummer Darrin Mooney, Jonathan Noyce who played bass with Jethro Tull for 12 years, two opera singers and violin and cello. There’s also going to be different actors on the different nights reciting Shakespeare – including 74-year-old Richard Briers! If you’re interested in finding out more, or live in London and want tickets, go to www.sonnet155.com
Now, talk about polar opposites: from septuagenarian genius actors to pre-pubescent teenagers. On Saturday night I played for N Dubz at Hammersmith Apollo. Culture shock! If you are not currently in touch with youth culture you can check out www.ndubz.com to see what I mean. They wanted six electric violinists to appear from a giant screen for their encore.
For all their bad rap (no pun intended) these hip-hoppers were all extremely pleasant, coming into the dressing room before the show to give us all hugs and wish us good luck. I had been dreading our prescribed dress code of white tracksuits. But luckily we got away with an ensemble of white linen trousers and T-shirts. From… er, Primark. As soon as I got home Wallace the dog ate my white plastic ballet pumps. They cost the wardrobe girl a whopping £11!
Wallace is now 14 weeks old. Which (almost) makes him pre-pubescent in dog years. I am happy to share that he has moved on from humping rugby balls and ancient disabled (male) dogs and has been showing affection for a beautiful six-month pedigree puppy called Wendy The Whippet. Yes, that is her real name. If I made a film of them frolicking in the fields of north London in the setting of the sun made all the more beautiful by the Icelandic ash hovering in our skies, and then stuck Puppy Love in the title and stuck it on YouTube, I know I could get at least a million hits.
Finally, speaking of things which could be weird but aren’t, the potentially creepy voyeur who was watching over the hedge and through my windows while rehearsing with my band last week has made contact. I found a slightly crumpled handwritten note on the doormat the other morning. It read:
‘To the musicians,
I was walking down your road a few weeks ago and came across some astonishing melodies coming from inside this house.
‘I heard tabla, violin, guitar…
‘I’m your neighbour… I’m also a musician but run an organisation dedicated to showcasing remarkable works. I’d love to chat and definitely hear more of your music soon, perhaps we could be of help to each other.
Drop round or give me a call anytime.’
(Name and telephone number withheld to protect the potentially innocent.)
Which reminds me… I must call him – you never know!
To be continued…
Have a great week!
Inspiration Track of The Week: Tom Waits I Never Talk To Strangers