Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mercury Lounge: Rebel (Rebel) Orchestra

The girl from Massachusetts, dark hair scraped back, cheekbones and elbows dangerously sharp, took the microphone. What came out was deeper, throatier and more studiedly English than Bowie himself could ever have tried for.
"Ground Control to Major Tom..."
"That was unexpected," we muttered beneath the cheers. But, to be honest, the whole thing was unexpected. We'd only rocked up because the Slavic party in Park Slope had seemed too far away and it was getting late. We had Plan B expectations, which were unexpectedly upgraded. It was unexpected that the orchestra would be so young, that the girls would be hot in body-con dresses and wet-look leggings, while the music-geek-boys let them take the spotlight. It was unexpected that the crowd of proud leather-clad parents and curious hipster waifs would work up such a sweat. And then there was that ball-clenching version of Under Pressure...
There were twenty-seven musicians on stage and the sound they created was thick and textured enough to feel on your skin. Our faces got blasted with trombone and viola; we had to drag our pints to our lips through thick bassoon and breathy backing vocals.
The lead singer, between conducting and flirting with little Ms. French Horn, gave shout-outs to his mother, who would be loyally flogging CDs after the show. Next he invited a cast of glorious misfits to take the microphone. Alongside the two gravelly and purringly glamorous female singers, there was a plaid-trousered rawk kid, a rangy opera singer and a spy, suited man with all the sinister charm of a child catcher.
When we thought it couldn't get any better, the leader singer's meandering intro took on a familiar flavour:
"You remind me of the babe."
"What babe?"
"The babe with the power of voodoo..."

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