Michael Nyman


Scotland Herald - Michael Nyman with David McAlmont, City Halls, Glasgow - David Prater

Oct 18th, 2010

The prospect of composer Michael Nyman and vocalist David McAlmont onstage, together, was a delicious one.

Nyman is best known for his soundtrack work, while McAlmont is rightly famed for his vocal acrobatics.

Saturday night’s performance, part of the excellent Minimal festival, had two distinct strands. The first was essentially a Nyman hits package. What was striking was that the music has held up better than many of the movies. Firmly rooted in systems-based composition, Nyman weaves an intriguing web of compelling piano motifs over which the 11-piece band plays with considerable gusto. The opening number, Franklyn, from Wonderland, was a case in point. For all the talk of minimalism the Nyman band is, at times, reminiscent of an outdoor brass band: big, bold and gallus.

Out of context and on their own, it is easier to recognise some of the reference points which Nyman has absorbed. There were two offerings from Prospero’s Books: Come Unto These Yellow Sands, over which the ghost of Gil Evans hovers, while the wonderful Miranda echoes the lyricism of Gershwin.

The second set introduced McAlmont to perform songs recorded for an album, The Glare, using his lyrics set against previously recorded Nyman compositions. While the result was occasionally underwhelming, with McAlmont’s voice set deep in the mix and competing for attention with the band, when his voice took full flight, as in A Great Day In Kathmandu and The Coldest Place On Earth, the hairs on the back of your neck stood to attention. Immaculate phrasing and a voice as sweet as Curtis Mayfield’s are McAlmont’s calling cards, and where did he buy that bling?

Star rating: ****


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