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Posted by: tomnorris

Tagged in: tom's blog

It seems like ages since Quadrophenia, the final performance of which didn't disappoint. The Albert Hall is a place where each concert feels like a really special occasion, and this was no exception. Still, back down to earth I came, with not so much of a bump, as a drop down into the kind of wave a surfer might wait hours to catch. Since my last blog I have found myself plunged deep into the world of string quartet playing, where our quartet managed to reach the semi-finals of the Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition. This was quite unexpected, The Puertas Quartet being a relatively new venture, formed at the very start of my sabbatical, when we got a gig on a cruise ship for two weeks. Our tentative application for the competition was a long shot, but we did get accepted, which meant we had to organise an intensive period of playing over the course of a month, during which we had to learn no less than seven string quartets, including Beethoven's late masterpiece, op 127. This was a true voyage of discovery for us all, and we were gutted not to play it in the final. But one of the best things about going to a competition is meeting the other musicians, and we commiserated together in style, in a tiny French wine bar, where there was a stage and a keyboard, and we ended up jamming with the other musicians - Gregor from The Solstice Quartet played piano, Andrew from our quartet played drums, and I sang, mostly shite, but there was a moment or two of improvisatory enlightenment in the form of our rendition of "The Owl and The Pussycat"

 


Quadrophenia Rehearsals

Posted by: tomnorris

Tagged in: tom's blog

I'm considering wearing a skull and cross bones shirt for tomorrow's gig with The Who.  The single most incredible and exhilarating experience of my life, this is likely to be. When the band gets going, set in definitive motion by Zac on the drums, it is like a controlled explosion. Roger Daltrey asked me if I was enjoying myself in a reharsal last week, and I said hell yeah, and he said it must be a bit different from my experience in an orchestra. "People think this is just thrown together, but it's not like that...it's organised anarchy" he said.
You don't have to tell me that, Rog. Especially when Zac whacks a drumstick through his snare skin, which gets promptly replaced with a spare. Spare snare.
I'll leave the details of the gig to my next blog. It should be fantastic!


Elliot Ware, currently playing keyboards for The Who, got hold of my details through an internet surfing session. The links work, hurray! He asked if I'd be free to play for their Royal Albert Hall performance of Quadrophenia, as the final concert of the Teenage Cancer Trust charity week on March 30th. I didn't have to think about this one, as I happened to be free, and what an opportunity! I asked Elliot how many string players he wanted on the gig, and he told me the long and short of it was that they only wanted one violin, and one cello. So I was simultaneously gripped with awe and excitement, as you might imagine. We started rehearsing down at Shepperton Studios, where they have huge warehouse buildings, Hollywood style, one of which the band had turned into a rehearsal stage. I arrived there bubbling with excitement, and met Billy and Elliot, and I'm not making this up, Roger and Rabbit. Billy is the one I'll be singing backing vocals with, and Rabbit is the keyboard player - a Texan who's lived in England since 1971. Roger, who as we all know, is one of the greatest heavy metal singers of all time, could not be there for the first rehearsal. So Anna, the cellist, and I were able to get up to speed with the various string parts and riffs that Elliot had prepared for us. Two things struck me and gave me an instant feeling of "Rock 'n Roll Tommy, you've arrived!"

One: Zak's drum kit. If you think this looks elaborate, wait til you hear it.


Launch Day

Posted by: tomnorris

Tagged in: tom's blog

It's launch day, and all the rehearsals have been going well. There were moments in the last four months when I wondered if i'd be anything like ready for this, but the band has kept me positive, and have been solid from day one. I arrived at The Forge early- or at least I thought so. Lauren, from Muso Magazine, who I was meeting for an interview, had been waiting for half an hour by the time I got there, whoops. But we had some extremely potent coffee, coutesy of the boys at Caponata, which meant we made up for lost time, as I raced through the questions like I had a train to catch. I think my favourite question was when I was asked how I would cope going back into the LSO and being a small part of a giant machine again...or words to that effect- and it made me feel a pang of nostalgia for those moments in orchestral music where the huge body of sound envelops and carries you, and you are somehow transported to another world. Playing my songs with the band is, in some ways, a completely different feeling. The responsibility is more immediate, for one thing, and the connection with the audience is perhaps more direct than in a huge concert hall. The venue we chose for the launch was ideal in this respect, as there was a cosy atmosphere, and every time I looked out I saw faces I knew. It was a great turn out, and I think The Forge had not seen many evenings like it, in terms of the number of people.  All in all, the band was superb, and the audience appreciative, and the video that Tommy, Jo and I spent a couple of days shooting in icy Vienna went over very well. My next gig? Well, that's an interesting one. I got a call from a fixer who found me on my new website, asking if I was free to play violin and sing backing vocals for The Who, at their Albert Hall gig next month. I can't wait!


Open Mic

Posted by: tomnorris

Tagged in: tom's blog , music

I'm just sitting waiting for a bowl of pasta in Cambridge circus. I'm a little bit nervous because I've just put my name down for a spot at Soho's Spice of Life venue. I'm on at 9.30ish, so it gives me a chance to collect my thoughts. I recently made a pact with myself that I would get out more. Specifically, it means I'll scan the listings every day for open mic venues, and each evening turn up with my guitar to sing.

 


Memories of the sun

Posted by: tomnorris

Tagged in: tom's blog , music

Back in the summer of 2009, while I was frantically trying to juggle LSO rehearsals and tours, quartet rehearsals and the like, I got a phonecall from my friend Oli Langford saying 'are you free this afternoon?'

I wasn't really, but I had a couple of hours before my next rehearsal, so I asked him what it was for, and he said Charlie Winston needed a violinist to put down a couple of tracks on his new album. I obliged and jumped on my bike, and pelted towards a tiny recording studio near Old Street.


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