I have to admit, before seeing Chris Thile at The Arts Centre, I had no idea that ‘newgrass’ was a genre. Sure, I’ve seen a Coen Brothers movie or two, but I was definitely not expecting to walk away as impressed and blown away by last Monday’s performance as I was.
Chris Thile is best known for his work with The Punch Brothers and has also been hailed as ‘the most remarkable mandolinist in the world’ – a fact that was more than apparent within seconds of the opening song Adagio from his solo album Bach: Sonatas and Partitas, vol. 1.
Given the album title and the material performed, the most surprising element of the night was the sheer energy on display. Sure, this was technically classical music, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen as much toe-tapping, head-bopping and pure fun at a classical performance before in my life.
Thile’s set was interspersed with a number of covers, traditional folk songs and his own diverse compositions. Of the covers played, special mention goes out to Fiona Apple’s Fast As You Can. I had a hard time keeping myself in my seat for that one. It’s rare to attend a performance that so effortlessly moved between frenetic excitement, heartfelt sadness to laugh out loud cheekiness without feeling disjointed. Let’s just say, they definitely do not hand out the ‘virtuoso’ title lightly and despite my own (embarrassing) ignorance, I had a fucking blast.
BY LUKE FORESTER
Loved: Thile’s twitchy dancing.
Hated: My own musical ignorance.
Drank: Nothing – keeping it classy, people.