Wilton Church, Nr Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Sunday 18th September 1994

Review by Neil Leacy


The review below was written by Neil Leacy, my thanks to him for letting me reprint it here.
Details of the tunes played, and some additional information are also available.


Sunday 18th September 1994 -
Wilton Church, Nr Salisbury, Wiltshire, England

The Penguin Cafe Orchestra on the steps of Wilton Church, Wilton - September 1994

Photograph by Roger Elliot - 1994
(Reprinted with permission)


Set in Wilton Church, I attended one of the best concerts of my life. There were no lasers, no massive backdrops (apart from the stained glass window behind the main altar), no pyro-technics (apart from a few candles) and no state of the art electronic instruments (apart from a fretless bass guitar!) So why was this one of the best? Quality musicians, quality music and quality acoustics.

The stage was set in front of the altar of this high roofed, mediterranean style church. The seating for the audience was in the church pews - cushions were available on the way in :-). At 6.30p.m. PCO led by Simon Jeffes took to the stage. The house (church?) lights were switched off and they began the first piece "Air a Danser". My immediate surprise was being able to hear every instrument clearly; from trombone to cello and from ukelele to percussion, and this was the same through out the two-and-a-half hour concert. After the opening track Simon Jeffes asked for the subtle lighting to be raised a little and small candles appeared giving the stage and even warmer glow!

"Cage Dead version 2.0" was next. Written as a tribute to John Cage this haunting track is available on the "Union Cafe " album from which a number of tonights' pieces came from. Other tracks included "Air", one of my favourites and I wish they recorded this one live as it was even more subtle then the studio version, "Perpetuum Mobile", "Telephone and Rubber Band" featuring a tape loop (the only other nod to electronics tonight) of a combined ringing and engaged tone - wonderful fun!

After a break of some 15 minutes (to stretch the legs and un-numb your bums :-)) the second part of the concert began with the upbeat "Beanfields". The mood was calmed with "Vega", a floating, modulating piece which, considering the venue, carried me off amongst the rafters. "Music for a found harmonium" was written on a harmonium Simon Jeffes (PCO leader and composer) actually found on a scrap heat in Kyoto - and there he was, stage left, playing that very harmonium! This half of the concert passed all too quickly for me as the PCO went into a resounding version of "Giles Farnaby's Dream" covering renaissance music, world music and funk all in one go!! Marvellous.

Much clapping and cheering came from the 800+ audience, including a deep rumble of stamping of feet on the wooden floor, and PCO returned for three encores. I can't remember the title of the last, slow, piece but at the end the final notes just hung in the air... and then once again the audience broke into rapturous applause.

A night of music at it's best!

Copyright  1994 Neil Leacy


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