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The Cinematic Orchestra - Live At The Royal Albert Hall

The Cinematic Orchestra, Live At The Royal Albert Hall

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

JASON Swinscoe’s The Cinematic Orchestra are an act to be savoured in live form. Their complex, often beautiful, songs are tailor-made to wow appreciative audiences, whether in intimate settings, or the vast expanses of the Royal Albert Hall.

Last spring saw the release of latest album Ma Fleur, while the remainder of 2007 saw the band’s most intense touring schedule to date. More and more requests for live recordings and more and more sell out shows.

So when it came to the end of the year and a return to the city from where the band was first realised, the question was “Where? Where can you do the kind of show which will do celebrate a history and at the same time create something new?”

The band had always wanted a chance to develop into the Orchestra of their name, but they needed the kind of venue with the flexibility, the acoustics and the sheer scale to make it work.In the end there was only one place…

On November 2, 2007, Swinscoe brought an enhanced line-up of the Cinematic Orchestra, incorporating the 24-piece Heritage Orchestra to London’s Royal Albert Hall and played to a sold-out crowd of more than 4,000 people.

With over 40 musicians onstage at times, Swinscoe and his colleagues used the show as a unique opportunity to open out his chamber pieces into intense, beautiful and exquisitely realised epics which left the huge audience baying for more.

Featuring vocal contributions from Heidi Vogel, Lou Rhodes (formerly of Lamb) and Grey Reverend, plus the return of original member PC on turntables, an intense, beautiful night is recaptured here on this album in all it’s glory.

Needless to say, it’s an essential purchase for anyone that was lucky enough to be there, while fans will lap up this rare chance to hear their favourite act live. But newcomers would do well to check it out, too, particularly if they like their music laidback, intricately layered and cinematic in scope.

As with many live shows, the real highlights require a little patience. To Build A Home is a stunning slow-builder that unfolds into a track of exquisite, spine-tingling beauty, while the Heritage Orchestra is employed to emotive effect on Prelude, the type of composition that would grace the soundtrack of a film like The English Patient or Atonement. It’s capable of bringing tears.

Breathe is another that captivates, this time because of the power of its female vocals, while there’s a playfully jazzy vibe surrounding Ode To The Big Sea which offers a nice contrast to some of the more brooding recordings.

Time & Space, meanwhile, brings things to a fittingly big finale, offering an eight-minute parting shot that you’ll wish you’d been there to savour.

Download picks: To Build A Home, Prelude, Breathe, Ode To The Big Sea, Time & Space

Track listing:

  1. All That You Give
  2. Child Song
  3. Flite
  4. Familiar Ground
  5. To Build A Home
  6. Prelude
  7. Breathe
  8. Ode To The Big Sea
  9. Time And Space