Review: Nigel Kennedy’s The New Four Seasons + Dedications – QPAC, Brisbane (02.02.17)

I find myself sitting in QPAC, eyes half closed. I’m moving through springtime, by a babbling brook. I’m gazing from a snowy summit, blistering winds gazing my face faster than coarse sands. But all the while, just in my peripheral, I can see these damn yellow sneakers. They follow me through the foothills. They sit by the babbling brook, shoestrings snaking into the edge of the ripples. A thousand reflections of yellow hang in dew drops on autumn trees. Bloody Nigel Kennedy and his unfathomable style follow you through every note.

Whether you love him or hate him – you must give it to Nigel. The man is unique from his eclectic dress sense to his cheeky grin, and he can bloody well play the violin. He, along with his international band of rogue orchestral musicians, put an electricity in Vivaldi not seen very often. Probably enough to wake the Vivaldi himself from his grave.

Setting the mood with a rendition of Stevie Wonder, before launching into the seasons – the strings are arranged around Nigel at centre stage like an incorrigible blooming flower. Unwilling to break but only sway in the wind of the music.

Kennedy must be well informed of what a Brisbane summer feels like – thunder storms and drenching humidity coupled with hot afternoons and stunning floods because that’s exactly how their overall performance of Summer felt, wild and beautiful.

But the passion was just as strong in each and every musician. At one point the troupe had to make an impromptu performance of Django Reinhardt’s “Swing 39” because the celloist had been playing on her last 3 strings.

After being awarded her own well deserved applause the show resumed its proceedings. Only occasionally being broken up by Nigel’s observations. Such as the giant organ in QPAC’s Concert Hall – “That organ is so huge it makes Barry White look like a midget!” he exclaimed.

But Nigel’s best observation was his passion for live recordings and live performances, and the magic that music uses to bring people together. The time stamp of a composition makes no difference to that magic, and together as an audience he thanked everyone for being a part of it.

Who knew Vivaldi in yellow sneakers could sound so good?