An evening with men on the moon
Last weekend, I spent a day in blistering sunshine dancing to techno at Green and Blue festival in Frankfurt. In stark contrast, this Wednesday saw me taking my seat at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall to watch a performance of something quite unbeknown to me – Brian Eno’s Apollo. A far cry from bass fuelled house music.
For those of you equally unacquainted with the man and his work, Mr Eno is an English music composer who is best known for his ambient sounds, for being a member of the glam rock band Roxy Music, and for his collaborations with rock and super stars such as U2 and David Bowie.
Back in the 80s, Eno was commissioned to craft the soundtrack for two years worth of footage filmed during man’s first trip to the moon. In the film (which has been edited and its speed increased thankfully), you follow the astronauts on their journey from blast off to life on the moon, plus witness the infamous moment when Neil Armstrong proudly erects the USA’s flag. Unsurprisingly, not one single word is uttered along the way. Instead, this silent movie is accompanied by an extraordinary tale told through the sound of oboes, pan-pipes, electric violins, guitars, flutes and drums all played by the 13 strong ensemble Icebreaker, and guest starring the legendary 70s musician BJ Cole on his pedal steel guitar.
The performance is an eerie experience, a poignant trip that at some moments lead you to believe you may have accidentally encroached on a lover’s holiday to an alternative Hawaii (thanks to a couple in space suits frolicking together to the sound of Cole’s hula hula synth notes).
The reality is that together, the footage and live orchestra make this an undeniably magnificent journey. It’s an experience that ironically, brings you and your feet back down to earth and awakens the vulnerability of human kind within you. Deep? Maybe. Unmissiable? Absolutely.