So on Friday evening my son Nick and I had the mighty privilege of watching and hearing Nigel Kennedy and his band play Jimi Hendrix. Totally A1 ace and amazing.
What especially grabbed me was Nigel himself. Stocky, bawdy, with a bad haircut, wearing a crap old Aston Villa T-shirt, expletives abounding. And so when I Wikipedia-ed Nigel Kennedy, I noticed they too had something to say about his image:
Kennedy’s carefully maintained loutish persona is seen by some as abrasive and limiting to his career, citing as an example his use of a ‘Mockney’ accent. Kennedy was attacked for his approach to classical music by John Drummond in 1991, who criticised his “ludicrous clothes and grotesque, self-invented accent.”
Then he plays. His music is sublime and transfixing. The light and shade of Jimi Hendrix is felt by all at The Basement. He is a musical maestro, and it was our privilege to experience him. And when all is said and done, isn’t that what it’s all about anyway; the music.
Some will go for style over substance, and in their eyes Nigel Kennedy might be a half baked brand. Personally I go for substance over style. There’s just too much ‘style without substance’ floating around these days. And if there is a jarring visual disconnect between the style [loutish persona] and the substance [musical genius] so much the better. After all, it is the cracked one’s who let the light in.