Nigel Kennedy – The New Four Seasons.

There is an old saying in musical circles that goes: Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day – Give him a violin, and he will play Vivaldi. I might have just made that up, but there is definitely an inextricable link between violin and Vivaldi. His name, Antonio Vivaldi, is even an anagram of ‘not a violin diva’. We can only be grateful that his name wasn’t an anagram of ‘likes to play tuba loud’ and that he went on to popularise great farty symphonies of parrumphing. Thankfully, The New Four Seasons is not a piece for tuba.

Nigel Kennedy - The Four Seasons

Spring – A time for the new.

The Four Seasons is one of the most popular of all classical pieces and most people will have heard at least some part of it, largely because of Nigel Kennedy.

It was a Sunday night, as Rachel and I took our seats at The Colston Hall in Bristol to see Kennedy’s latest incarnation of The Four Seasons. In keeping with trends set by the likes of Scooby-Doo and The Pink Panther, he had chosen to add the word ‘new’ to the title to differentiate it from the original. Thus, we were all set to witness ’The New Four Seasons’.

Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day - Give him a violin, he will play Vivaldi. #NigelKennedy #TheFourSeasons Click To Tweet

Summer alright. Summer annoying.

It’s well documented that performers are a superstitious bunch, and Kennedy is no exception. Shortly before anyone took to the stage we could hear a muffled, yet rousing, rendition of ‘Oggy oggy oggy’ from backstage. But, it’s not just the performers who go through the same routine before a show. I do too. It goes like this. We take our seats and agree that we have been lucky with the allocation of tickets allowing us a good clear view of the stage. Then, about two minutes before showtime a couple will take their seats in the row in front of us. For some reason, these people are invariably seven feet tall with big bushy hair and a top hat. For this show, my view was to be obscured by a man with the biggest head in the world, and Rachel was to be sat directly behind his fidget-arsed wife, who had the ability to predict the exact bit of the stage Rachel wanted to look at, and lean in front of it.
It’s always annoying having to spend the evening staring at the back of someone’s head, and I would usually opt to peer around the offending article, even if it means spending the evening with my head almost resting on the shoulder of the chap sitting next to me. On this occasion, that was not such a desirable option. Sunday night was apparently bath night for the old man in seat 26, but he had decided to wait until he got home instead of taking a dip before sitting for three hours in close proximity to other people in a hot cramped room. The humidity of the auditorium also did little to help with his tickly cough, and I was regularly engulfed in a plume of warm breath and medicated lozenge.

Autumn – A season of change.

If watching the show wasn’t good, what about the sound? Well, having attended more Kiss and Mötley Crüe concerts than is recommended for maintaining a full spectrum of hearing, I dare say I missed a lot. What I did hear, however, was excellent.

The show consisted of two parts, the first being a series of pieces dedicated to various musicians and composers, and was a mixture of jazz and classical. After the intermission came ‘The New Four Seasons’ and while most of it was instantly recognisable, some elements did come as a surprise. Even now, every time I listen to the CD I am finding new things in there as it roams from atmospheric Brian Eno to Rondo Veneziano to Jive Bunny and back to Vivaldi.

It’s not disclosing any secret to suggest that Nigel Kennedy is as mad as a box of frogs, but it is his alternative approach that acts to attract the attention of a wider audience. His sartorial elegance is more of a dress-down Friday at a working-man’s club than a Sunday-best coat-&-tails classical concert, but it adds to the show. He even does costume changes, something that is rarely seen at the proms. It consisted of a different Aston Villa shirt for each part of the show.

In addition to his music, his continual banta was incredibly amusing, and he had better interaction with the audience than many stand-up comedians I have seen.


Winter – A time to review.

So, would I recommend going to see him? Of course I would, the guy’s a genius. Essentially, if you are a lover of classical music, you should go and see him. If you like jazz, you should go and see him. If you are an Aston Villa fan, you should go and see him. However, if you listen to Kanye West, you are obviously not interested in music, talent, charisma or showmanship, so you should definitely stay home and try not to hurt yourself if you are allowed cutlery.

Finally, the big question: Would Vivaldi approve? Probably. Unless, of course, he was a Birmingham City fan.

Football shirt