Nothing better than watching a master at work

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Nigel Kennedy

Just watched Nigel Kennedy on the last night of the Proms and was in awe of his talent as a musician – he can play with such a natural ability that I’ve never seen anyone else manage. I’ve been luck over the years to see some great players but when you see someone with the capability to play around with music and have so much fun with it too it sends the goosebumps to attention and the hairs on your neck to acute angles.

There is something wonderful about watching someone who is clearly enjoying what they are doing and are as untouchable in their field, but at the same time not doing it for anyone but themselves and their audience. There are no airs and graces about Nigel Kennedy, but that’s why I’ve always been impressed by him. In his early career he played along with the expectations that were placed on him but when he broke out of that shadow he came alive in a wondrous way. That’s the same for any artist when they hit that point where they care about the job but not to detriment of it.

You see this in so many younger artists of all kinds trying to be the flawless and perfect vision of someone in their field and while they are technically accurate and lauded by critics I always yearn for the free spirit in them to appear from behind the two dimensional version of themselves. I genuinely love to see people in the moment when performing or experiencing it with them – there has to be that emotional connection, especially in music that takes you from technically accurate to have soul in your bones.

A singer like Andrea Bocelli is another great example where he gets lost in the music and grabs you with his voice, he doesn’t follow the expected rules of opera singing and will mix his styles and songbooks because he is so comfortable in his art. In pop people like Stevie Wonder, Seasick Steve, Annie Lennox, David Gray, Sarah McLachlan and Ray Charles all sang and played with their hearts and that openness is something you either have or don’t – much of it comes with experience. It’s interesting I’ve singled out three blind performers and I wonder if because they listen and engage with the music with their ears rather than worry about how they look, makes that difference as they have nothing to compare themselves with.

Whether an actor, a musician, comedian, singer, dancer or artist the platform you are given should be more than hitting the right notes or points on the stage when expected – it needs to be about passion and heart and nothing makes me happier as a member of an audience to see and experience that. I think that’s why I dislike the X-Factor and other such shows as they lack that element – the care and engagement is missing and the want for fame is all that they really have in them. For a song to break your heart, make you want to dance or to stop you in your tracks it needs something more than accuracy.

I’d forgotten what a real talent Mr Kennedy is and will not leave it so long until I catch his work again. There truly is nothing better than watching a master at work and loving every minute of it.

JD

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