A new venue in Leiden for incendiary: what was remembered as a shop where I’d go and get drinks and snacks is now a private house, albeit one dedicated to hosting events of a highbrow nature. The events (seemingly chosen from a spectrum of academic/electro music, art, readings, you know, that sort of thing) seem to be hosted under the name of Meet & Greet. It’s quite a change in function for the building, but new venues are not to be sniffed at, especially when the line ups are such good quality: the Friesian Kleefstra/ Pruiksma/Kleefstra are a fine act as well as being pretty well known locally; (they played one of WotNxt’s legendary Tegendraads ights at the LVC as Piiptsjilling), and Greg Haines is a name in some circles so quite a crowd had turned up to sit on the chairs and nibble at the snacks on offer…
Once all were seated more or less comfortably, it was announced that the gig was to be split over three parts: first we would be treated to a set from Kleefstra/ Pruiksma/Kleefstra, then Greg Haines would follow suit with his piano wizardry, and finally both artists would join together to create a rousing finale. Sounds good? It was. Kleefstra/ Pruiksma/Kleefstra were backed by a musical assemblage comprising two gongs, guitar, vox (there’s normally a fair bit of spoken word in their work) and a lot of pedals and diverse small instruments & bird call devices. Despite this array of noise making artefacts, the bands main aim was to create a brooding silence that sometimes coagulated thickly around the listener, almost like a thick “pea-souper”. Rather than feeling oppressive, the gradations of tone and texture allowed a status of calm and reflection to slowly descend, broken now and again by a halting set of lyrics, offered as suggestions rather than any lead to the music. The surprise package for your reviewer was the use of the two gongs: it seemed that stroking and rubbing these instruments created the most beautiful mid tone to hang richly behind the other instruments, creating a warm rounded backdrop. Finally the gig ended, almost on a pin drop and those too spell-bound (or embarrassed to break the silence) shuffled off quickly to the toilet.
Greg Haines kept things simple, in that his show was just him and an upright piano. There were a couple of problems with a number of keys, but despite this and the other fact that the piano was parked up a little unceremoniously in the corner of the room the performance, comprising of a series of rippling, deeply textured piano runs, was superb. There is a connection – both in his ebullient playing style, and playing off intricate though repetitive patterns against each other to Nils Frahm, but I’m not sure if that could be called anything other than a good thing. Again the audience sat tight, scared to miss anything, forgiving the odd blip by Haines as the inevitable consequence of a dodgy key.
Then a grand ensemble: one piece that saw Kleefstra/ Pruiksma/Kleefstra carry on as usual with Haines adding broken, questioning notes that looked to shatter the ethereal calm that the trio created.
An absolutely marvellous night and better value than the Heineken I used to buy in the former shop. More, please.