Piercing the darkness and din, over her drink, were my sister’s eyes, insisting I meet their glare. I’d done it, just before, and it had been horrible. She was in hell over there on her high swivel stool and was blaming me.
Around that time – 2003-ish – I maxed out on seeing The Necks live. I certainly stopped bringing friends and family. The gig with my sister was at a small venue called The Basement, and particularly full on, but any Necks’ show is a make or break experience. Some find it cathartic, others buckle and ever the twain shall chafe in the washout.
The trio’s routine is to play two improvised sets using just piano, double bass and drums: one set relatively calm; the other dispensing escalating intensity for a long hour. Jazz by name but not by nature – if jazz denotes songs that spark at intervals into fine displays of musicianship and tricky timing, after which one claps, drinks, and feels pretty good about the world and the talent in it. No, The Necks plunge listeners to the kinds of violent psychological depths few other bands can achieve at all, let alone all acoustically. A decade passed before I again chanced a show with a Necks neophyte, in March at the Sydney Opera House. When he recovered his power of speech, he said something like “best gig ever”.
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