Last night I went to see Mick Harvey of the Bad Seeds unveil his latest collaboration – a collection of duets with Amanda Acevedo at the beautiful church of St John of Bethnal Green.
It was a special evening, with Mick playing multiple instruments; his voice, aged and cracking around the edges, contrasting beautifully with the purity of the young Mexican chanteuse’s sweet tones.
They were backed by J.P.Shilo on electric guitar and a Berlin band called Sometimes With Others – guitarist/vocalist Mika Bajinsk, cellist Marie–Claire Schlameus, double bassist Yoyo Röhm on lap steel guitar – whose musical style might be described as Chamber Noir.
This was the highlight of the set.
It’s a bold move to tackle a song that’s already been recorded so memorably at least twice before: there’s an argument that neither Tim Buckley nor This Mortal Coil versions of Song For The Siren are improvable.
Remarkably Harvey and Acevedo have done it justice. What’s more, they’ve made a lyric video which means that Buckley’s moody murmuring and Liz Frazer’s blurry warbling come sharply into focus and people like me now know the words for the first time.
It’s from a new album of duets called Phantasmagoria In Blue that includes songs that were originally duets, songs that were never intended as duets like Pat Benatar’s 1980s banger Love Is A Battlefield – reimagined as a melancholy minor-key ballad – and translations from Spanish, songs sung in Spanish… and a sprinkling of original compositions.
Harvey and Acavedo met several years ago when he was on tour in Mexico City with his namesake PJ Harvey, and after a time Acavedo sugggested a collaboration, sharing music online before meeting up in LA to work on an album, finishing it late last yar in Melbourne.
I’m glad they did.