Recently spent a long weekend in Amsterdam, focal point of which was taking in a screening at the Paradiso of Eisenstein’s Que Viva Mexico with live score performed by Nine Rain, made all the more special by it taking place in conjunction with celebrations for the Mexican Day Of The Dead.
A wet Sunday evening and the Paradiso, a converted church in the city centre
was decked out for the evening with large skull mobiles hanging from the ceiling and an impressively adorned altar to Eisenstein front and centre below the stage.
A crowd of maybe around 300 gathered for the show, which began with two dancers ritually invoking the spirits.
And then the film – I’d not seen it before, and it’s a film with a ‘difficult’ past, probably best served over more than one viewing. Initially, the old city symphonies (Berlin: Symphony of a Great City – Man With A Movie Camera etc…) sprang to mind, and I wonder whether Eisenstein was perhaps intent on crafting a kind of ‘country symphony’.
Nine Rain’s musical accompaniment provided a thought-provoking additional ‘layer’ of meaning, with some sections evoking the onscreen action and others acting as counterpoint. There were even a couple of passages of intentional silence to ponder. That the ‘soundtrack’ didn’t end with the film points towards something else going on, a combined work in which vision and sound intentionally meet tangentially, creating an event that’s part film screening, part concert. All extremely enjoyable, despite the occasions where the live sound mix briefly seemed to briefly ‘lose’ voice or instruments.
Was good to hang out with Isabelle, Steven, Alejandro, Jocelyne, Willem, Marianne and Greta in the bar of the Backstage Hotel (where the band were staying) afterwards, although the 4am finish effectively meant that I spent most of the following day in a bit of a stupor, rising late to bike around town with Jocelyne and picking up a DVD copy of Que Viva Mexico at a small film buff store we chanced upon.
We ended up, perhaps appropriately, having a leisurely dinner in Rose’s Cantina.
Sad to have missed a hastily organised ‘jam’ session at the Illuseum on Tuesday evening – I did try to rearrange my return flight, but discovered that my ticket type wouldn’t allow it, and a new single flight would set me back over £300. Ouch. So I’ll have to make do with the two tantalising snippets that have appeared on YouTube, dammit.
And the curse?
According to Steven, every time Nine Rain play, it rains. It certainly did when I caught the band at the Illuseum last year, and there was to be no exception this year. I got soaked through twice in the space of three days, though my decision to cycle everywhere probably didn’t help.