Review: Spaghetti Western Orchestra @ Southbank Centre

Franco Milazzo
By Franco Milazzo Last edited 88 months ago
Review: Spaghetti Western Orchestra @ Southbank Centre

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(c) Olivier Samson Arcand
If you threw a hundred instruments, five musicians and the soundtracks by Ennio Morricone to Sergio Leone's cinema classics like A Fistful Of Dollars and For A Few Dollars More into a blender and hit the big red button, you might end up with the Spaghetti Western Orchestra (or a rather nasty mess).

These gifted Aussies, back at the South Bank after their successful run last year, arrive on stage to the sound of gunfire and plume after plume of dry ice. In true cinematic style, each of these multi-instrumentalists assumes a role: the Bank Teller, the Storyteller, the Lie Teller, Goldschmeller (us neither) and the Young Feller. They kick off with "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly" which they recently performed on the Jools Holland show (we don’t know if Jools joined them for the usual awkward end-show jam). Some of the instruments are classical but most have been improvised with everyday household objects pressed into musical service. Who needs pan pipes when you can use lager bottles (presumably in Beer Flat)? An analogue alarm clock solo is followed by another Western soundtrack brought to life via sellotape, coins, hangers, belts and an umbrella. A microphone is rammed repeatedly into a box of cornflakes to mimic stealthy footsteps. There is a musical melange of immensely imaginative proportions going on here.

The staging is none too shabby either with the lighting evoking Sergio Leone’s films through stark sunset colours, shadows and silhouettes. The 90 minute show drags a little towards the end but there’s a rousing finale with the Storyteller playing off each side of the room against each other.

The Spaghetti Western Orchestra are at the Queen Elizabeth Hall tonight and tomorrow before they hitch their horses out of town headed for Finland. Tickets may still be available but be quick. As Clint Eastwood (a Leone favourite) might say “Do you feel lucky?” Well, do you? Don your poncho, track down a ten-gallon hat and mosey on down to here for more information on how to git y’self a ticket.

Last Updated 28 October 2010