The innovative twist on events was that Portico Quartet would perform live whilst the audience listened on P3 headphones plugged into radio receivers. The performance was mixed live by Greg Freeman and then mastered so that at the end of the evening the guests also got to take away a copy of the recording on an iPod with a pair of the headphones.
It was something like a live silent disco - without the dancing. I didn’t plug in to the main performance as I was trying to move around and capture the event, but I did listen during the soundcheck and it really worked well. The logistics seemed pretty complex for those involved in delivering the audio - perhaps the chest thumping bass of a large P.A. will continue to rule for now, but there is certainly something to recommend the headphone experience - as always with headphones it puts you right where you should be in the mix. Walking around without headphones during the performance was a little odd as much of the instrumentation on the two tracks Portico Quartet played was electronic, so there was an eerie quiet to the room - the occasional hang, cymbal and sax line escaping acoustically into the room.
Great music direct to your ears, with good food and drink in an evocative space - an experience you would have to work hard not to enjoy, so hopefully ‘silent’ concerts will take off and there will be more events to photograph - perhaps in environments where making a big noise isn’t a good idea or the acoustics are too challenging, but where the space would add something to the experience.
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