As part of Sheffield’s Sensoria festival the prospect of a performance by Richard H Kirk was something that few of us had on our calendars. After all it’s not often you get the chance to see him play out these days. And in fairness it might be the only chance you get to see him play in the almost respectable surroundings of a hotel ballroom.
That was the cases this week as Mr Kirk performed live for the first time since 2005 with a new set of material. The venue being The Grosvenor Hotel in the centre of Sheffield. Don’t let the auspicious name fool you, for many the building is a carbuncle on the face of the city centre and is at some point destined for demolition at some point in the near future as the city rushes towards the crux of it’s redevelopment plans.
As it was the hotel was a fitting environment, a mixture of sixties architecture with it’s combination of somewhat dated “I wish I was plush but I’m trying to fake it” interiors. It all worked to give you the feeling Jack Nicholson might have had when he was prowling the corridors in The Shining (minus the axe).
Ably supported by Ralph Razor who opened the night, the ballroom was set up with a somewhat bestial little sound system that gave Ralph Razor (of Razor Stiletto) the chance to ply his wares with some aplomb. A quick and dirty electronic set that set the scene for the headliner.
The thing about Kirk is you never really know what you are going to get, such is the nature of his varying style. Those who attend hoping for an obligatory set of material from his Cabaret Voltaire are usually disappointed, but they shouldn’t be. On occasions like this Kirk delivers new material that stands as a worthy addition to his canon.
Tonight’s show was a piece called ‘Subduing Demons In Charter Square’ an audio visual installation piece. With Kirk set up almost invisibly in front of three large screens he delivered a performance of beat laden electronica interspersed with chop cut footage of media pieces.
Aurally and visually it brought to mind material Byrne & Eno at the beginning of the eighties that is apt as it represents where Kirk himself comes from in terms of chronological placement in the grand scheme of things. There was however a twist of modernisation on the sound however with the percussive elements almost falling into the breakbeat category. The jump cut style of the video montages (which largely comprised of news footage with focus on a variety of conflicts especially in the Middle east). Slightly dated in execution but not to the level it would impair my enjoyment and in addition to the closed environment gave the piece some degree of dramatic weight.
The piece is considered a work in progress as part of an installation and it would be interesting to see how it evolves in other performances and locations but on this occasion it worked to great effect.