A ghostly wind whistles in from the desert. A saloon door creaks open. Spurs jangle as a pair of cowboy boots treads up to the bar. A trembling hand jostles hard liquor into a clinking glass. There’s a sharp intake of breath, then a hush descends as everyone waits to hear what the stranger will say …
These are the sounds of spaghetti. The spaghetti western, to be precise. Last night, I spent a delirious couple of hours in the second row of Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall being delighted, amused and generally blown away by the antics and musicianship of the Spaghetti Western Orchestra.
To get an idea of how this amazing ensemble operates, imagine the scene I’ve described as an echoing soundscape recreated by five Australians wielding a baffling array of musical instruments and everyday objects ranging from trumpet and bassoon to rubber glove and cornflakes packet. Combine this with wit, split-second timing and constantly gurning expressions enhanced by music-hall make-up and you’re halfway there.
I say halfway because, as well as humour and absurdity, the SWO also creates beautiful music. Last night’s opening salvo included the iconic theme from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, performed with enough gusto to take my breath away. Then there was the haunting melody of Chi Mai arranged for beer bottle and quintet. And did I mention the extraordinary solo spots for tin-box guitar and theramin?
If you’re one of those folks with an iPod full of Morricone’s music, or who gets all shivery whenever you see Clint Eastwood chewing a cheroot, I recommend you put these guys on your most wanted list. But you’d better be quick on the draw – I reckon tickets will be heading out west real fast.