The Cinematic Orchestra - Live At The Royal Albert Hall
For their November the 2nd, 2007 date at The Royal Albert Hall, Jason Swinscoe swelled the ranks of The Cinematic Orchestra to include over forty musicians. Now that's what I call an orchestra! This capturing of said performance is a classy and engaging recording, sure to find favour with fans of widescreen jazz and soul.
The epic Ode To The Big Sea has a long stretch in the middle where lone instruments squiggle their signatures in the air. It's the sort of thing that, to many, will have less appeal than the mating calls of aardvarks (although the crowd seem to love it, and the full orchestra coming back in is an awesome moment). This is the only descent into indisputably "noodly" territory. Otherwise The Cinematic Orchestra here are expansive, occasionally playful when it suits the material, without drifting too off course. Flite, for example, ain't entirely unlike an instrumental version of Radiohead's Dollars & Cents.
Vocal-wise, Lou Rhodes (ex of Lamb) is darkly distinctive on Time and Space, while Heidi Vogel, more classically soulful, inhabits well All That You Give, Familiar Ground and Breathe, even if she has no chance of matching the pathos of original vocalist Fontella Bass on the latter, a song that, lest we forget, is about facing death. The lousiest track here is their best known one, To Build A Home (featuring Grey Reverend), seemingly now a staple of adverts and TV shows. The studio version sounds like Coldplay; the live version duller still. It's a small dip in an enthralling, often poignant set, one that, by the end, may leave you feeling like you're pleasantly adrift on that big sea.