Arto Linsday at Rough Trade East
Rough Trade East is a metaphor for the whole of Shoreditch: freshly ground coffee at extortionate prices, quirky CDs stacked alongside old favourites – some signed, some not – and boasting a minimalist, wooden stage to host concerts that are, in themselves, some new art form of music.
Arto Lindsay slouches onto the stage a little after the supposed start of 1pm, and immediately makes himself at home with a squawk of feedback that presumably is supposed to make some sort of statement. Instead it’s painful both to listen to and to watch. The lyrics, at least those in English, aren’t much better – “I don’t often play to English speakers” he tells the audience. Three or four songs in English later, it’s as though you’ve heard the same song with a different beat – or intensity of headache – attached, several times over.
The thing about Lindsay is that he doesn’t seem to really be a musician as such. He self-taught himself the guitar and specialises in extended techniques – basically making noises and effects with the instrument in ways aside from the conventional strum or pick method. This is both effective and dreadful, but he definitely makes an impact. The influences from African tribal music are pretty clear, as his tracks focus very much on rhythm and beat as opposed to melody or any sort of real listening pleasure. He’s skilled, no doubt – but the screaming feedback, very much evident on Illuminated in particular, destroys any enjoyment the audience could garner. Feedback has been used to great effect with extended techniques on guitar before, but here it doesn’t seem at all thought out.
All is not bad. Lindsay is a very well known and, it has to be said, skilled artist. Artist, however, is a better way to describe him than musician – if art is there to make an impact, Lindsay well deserves his prestige. He’s got a great voice, and the tracks in which he refrains from splitting heads and focuses on the tribal beats and sounds he has down pat – they’re great, unexpected, and reflect the talent shown in the albums he’s promoting with this concert beautifully.
He’s nowhere near as accessible live as he is recorded – and, ironically, his album and a cuppa would be a perfect remedy to the headache his live show leaves you with.
For further information about Arto Lindsay and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Illuminated here: