A Quiet Man and his Tiny Colour Movies

Thursday 29th of October
Leeds College of Music
John Foxx

Reviewing John Foxx, I have to declare a bias. There are very few musicians I would travel from London to Leeds to see whether I was writing a review or not. With Mr Foxx, I would comfortably travel twice that distance just for my own enjoyment.

Thursday night was not a concert but rather a film show with music. A few years ago, John began to develop a movie called "Tiny Colour Movies" from a selection of old Super8 films that he had gathered together from markets and attics. He added an evocative soundtrack and it became an hours fascinating experience. He has been playing it occasionally around the UK whilst tweaking it slightly before each showing to make it closer to the artistic vision that he had in mind.

Film of skyscrapers in New York, old Hollywood actors using keys to open doors, a naked 19 year old swimming around a car dumped at the bottom of a lake, members of families waving to their relatives…… it’s all here. It is not the stuff of today’s Hollywood Blockbusters and it is all the better for it. I suspect that the back story that Foxx has created of the various film makers and collectors is a lot of hokum but it creates a modern fiction from old inconsequential factual footage which is quite, quite charming.

After a twenty minute break, we return to the audiotorium to hear a section of the recent spoken word album "The Quiet Man". Foxx plays piano whilst the voice of an actor pre-recorded for radio is heard reading Foxx’s short story. We’re told a story of London gone wild for unknown reasons where the buildings are empty but intact except for the trees and flowers growing up the walls and through the carpets. The music is thoughtful and sparse, the accompanying film is provocative and interesting and the RP reading of the story keeps your attention.

Finally, VJ Karborn is invited to the stage to mix and sample images whilst John Foxx improvises a piano piece full of echo and resonance. The music is interesting but needs to be developed. It is difficult to see the theme in the images and no real narrative is established and this is the least satisfying of tonight’s performance.

The affable Mr Foxx then fields questions for twenty minutes talking about his inspirations, his plans for the future, slightly nerdy questions about synthesisers used 30 years ago and the sci-fi film Robot Monster.

A relaxed and thoughtful and quite beautiful evening’s activities. I’d travel to Leeds again for more of the same.

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