Nigel Kennedy talks Acoustic, Time keeping and the Importance of a Killer Melody

Nigel Kennedy talks Acoustic, Time keeping and the Importance of a Cracking Melody

Fans of the Classical music impresario Nigel Kennedy are in for a rare treat next week when he brings his new interpretation of 'Four Seasons’ to the Brigewater Hall, the unconventional performer will also be sharing his own critically acclaimed compositions ‘The English Collection’.


I spoke to Nigel this week to learn a little more about what we can expect from this Maverick violinist.


Known most recently for his preference toward the electric violin, should we expect the same at the Bridgewater?


Because of the acoustics at the Bridgewater hall I’ll be playing acoustic, it really is a beautiful venue for acoustic music. he said


I hope the show still has a bit of edge to it, it won’t be elevator music and I’ve got a great bunch of young musicians with me and they’ve got a lot of energy and individuality so we won’t be producing any Musak shit.


Never being one to adhere to convention, Kennedy will take audiences on a journey with his own extraordinary flair, whilst keeping the original ‘Four Seasons’ at its root.


I’m playing The four seasons acoustic but in a completely different way, I’ve written nice little interludes to join the Vivaldi parts, there’s a nice transient moment after something they know I blend into my piece and then back into the familiar, it gives everyone a kick up the arse and adds a nice perspective on it.


Maybe some of those interludes turn in songs in their own right, the ones with a nagging melody,


Exactly right, they are turning into songs, it’ a creative moment. And over time it grows – it has a life of its own.


I saw Madonna in Manchester recently, she was an hour and a half late and then she basically told everyone who was waiting to stop complaining, she said ‘If you don’t like it bitches – don’t come to my show’.


Are you known for your punctuality?


No, unfortunately not, I have a special brand of time keeping, it doesn’t fuckin’ exist for me man.


Time is relative to what I’m doing, sometimes a 3minute song can seem to last a long time if you don’t like it and something like ‘Dark side of the moon can be long but pass by fast’.


Can we expect you to keep the masses waiting at your Bridgewater hall gig?


It’s going to really mess up my after show party plans if I’m late and also the Bridgewater have a curfew – I don’t want people to miss the final notes because I’m late.  so No, I’ll be bang on time.


A lot of the people who come and see me are from a classical background, not all but some of the cats are and they are used to things being punctual. At 7:31 they start to fidget. I don’t want people to feel anxious. I’ll be there on time – famous last words.


In my early career I did have a mass walk out, it was Buxton I was 18 for playing electric when they were expecting acoustic. They tried turning their hearing aids down but in the end walked out. About 4 bus loads walked out – it was looking very sparse.


Has working and living as a pro musician left you feeling satisfied or do you wish you could have done something else?


You know I’ve been doing this since I was 7 years old and it has always left me feeling satisfied, I would like to have been a taxi driver, and the good thing about that job is you can choose your hours.


How’s your memory for the road system and all that? Would you have been a good taxi driver?


I’d need sat nav. I could do it in Krakow, the problem is if you have one beer they take the car away, it’s strict over there. So maybe the answer to your question is I couldn’t do that man. I’d work in a small village and just take people to the airport.


What’s influencing you musically right now?


There’s a lot of polish music influencing me right now because it’s so strong on the melody, and I’m a geezer that’s been brought up in classical and in Jazz and quite a lot of musicians in those fields don’t really have a great feel for melody.


More chaos than melody.


Very often they care more about technique rather that subject material.


You don’t go to a show to see how clever somebody is. I want to hear a killer melody.


I’m a sucker for a good hook.


And me, and the listener has to be able to feel it, empathize with it, music can often be very clever but without a melody it’s not going to do the business.


Unfortunately, sometimes great musicians are more interested in showing what they can do rather than just sharing a beautiful melody.


You don’t go to a show to see how clever somebody is. I want to hear a killer melody.


Where ever you’re playing you will find it’s the melody that reaches the heart.


At what age did you realise that? I mean that’s quite profound and not something a 7-year-old trying to be clever would recognize.


Well I got bored with it. When I started playing pubs and more normal venues I soon learnt that people don’t want to see clever geeky stuff.


Busking in New York taught me a lot. I was over there at college and when I’d play the clever stuff people on the street would just walk on by but when me and my mate played more melodic stuff walkers by would stop and throw some dimes in the case.


Where ever you’re playing you will find it’s the melody that reaches the heart.



24 January - Bristol, Colston Hall

26 January - Manchester, Bridgewater Hall

27 January - Edinburgh, Usher Hall

29 January - London, Royal Festival Hall

31 January - Birmingham Symphony Hall

Writers / Contributors: