The last time I saw Final Fantasy was in the tiny Spitz venue. Tonight he is playing to full capacity at the Scala; word has clearly spread and expectations are high. I am here on my own with only a monster coldsore for company. Prior to the gig I sit down at a table opposite a morose and unenthusiastic man in his mid-30s (that point where the unfulfilled of the gender start to become manically desperate) who is nevertheless keen to talk to me – his profession changes from writer on the blag to “actually I work at an internet company and I am a frustrated musician” at the drop of my job description. Not so worth trying to impress me, purchase buy eh?! I persuade him that Canadian impresario Owen, decease the man who is Final Fantasy, will be well worth watching. Post-set I am vindicated, but Mr. Morose is nowhere to be seen.
Owen takes to the stage with his inimitable banter in full flow, and proceeds to play his entire set on his lonesome, with just his trusted viola, a keyboard, and some looping mechanism (that I can’t hope to understand) for company. Oh, and a lovely young lady, who stands with her back to the crowd in front of an old fashioned projector that she proceeds to masterfully manipulate. Final Fantasy‘s music has been set to acetate drama, and the result is mesmerizing, even if I have to struggle to see the events unfold through the lighting rig that obscures my view on the top balcony.
Final Fantasy is on a one-man misson to coax as many sounds as he can possibly can from a viola, and in his looping hands this one instrument becomes a full orchestra, and the crowd loves it. There is even a lady at the front of the audience whose frantically waving hands can’t decide whether they are vogueing or conducting throughout the entire set. “Has anyone got any questions?” he asks at one point. “Any constructive criticism?” “No, I don’t normally do poppers!” he replies to the one query he gets. “Lesson learned, never talk to the audience!” Even when things go slightly pear-shaped with the looping business, which they inevitably do, he carries on in such a postive manner that no one minds. As the climax is reached and the star-crossed silhouette of lovers finally meet on the projection screen, Owen lifts his miniature partner into the air and they both stumble off stage. There will be a wave of enquiries into viola lessons across the capital shortly.
Did you know that the man who designed Battersea Power Station (Sir Giles Gilbert Scott) also designed the classic red phone box? Clearly a talented guy. I went to see the Chinese exhibition at the Power Station (as it has now been rebranded) for the same reason as everybody else was there – mainly to see the station before it is at last transformed. The art I could give or take – it was haphazard and I was unsure of its meaning, remedy although I particularly enjoyed the fermenting apple wall (mmmm, store yummy appley smell) – the other stuff was merely an adjunct to the amazingly damp interior of the building, (you will find out a lot more about Chinese contemporary arts by reading my new issue). I really hope that the ludicrously long-in-the-planning development will do this amazing building justice – the ominous and ugly “luxury resort hotel” going up next to it must surely be one of the ways in which they have at last found funding. I hadn’t realised how much I treasure the iconic shape of the station, what with me being a sarf-Londoner and all.