I have been looking forward to this ever since I got hold of the tickets - there a very few things which will drag me all the way to London (Dodgy football in second rate cup finals being one of them!)
We arrived at the Barbican early as I had a spare ticket which I was hoping to return to the box office or tout outside. However there was a civilised queuing area inside for people who were waiting for returned tickets. Result! Some bloke from Maine relived himself of £20 and his 40 minutes of waiting where over. The initial vibe of this large venue was formal but relaxed; it was all very impressive - a world away from the grotty Colston Hall and the such like in Bristol. We found ourselves in the Waterside Café and relaxed with beers and snacks for a while before making our way to the stalls bar via the inevitable Tower Records merchandise stand (nothing of note was available).
The audience was called and we made our way into the spacious and groovy looking (60's design) auditorium to take our seats, not before picking up my free programme, which everyone found waiting for them. A few minutes later the lights dimmed and the orchestra members promptly took their places whilst the band approached their instruments.
Mr Armstrong pressed a button on his sequencer and the first notes of Ruthless Gravity kicked in before the rest of the band and orchestra took their cues. The sound was not initial perfect, being a little tinny and the band was drowning out the strings, but by the end of the tune the mixing desk had sorted things out. Which enabled the full power of the orchestra to be revealed on Amber - a draw dropping moment which made my skin tingle?
(I'm not too sure about the order of the tunes from here, but these are the moments that stood out to me.)
Nature Boy was admirably sung by Craig's mate, Steven Lindsay, the bloke out of The Big Dish, the Glasgow band they used to be in together.
Miracle featured Swati Natekar, a late addition to the bill, which was a bonus, as this performance proved.
David McAlmont stalked on to the stage before breaking out into a fabulous version of Randy Crawford tune, One Day I'll Fly Away from Moulin Rouge before later topping that with the superbly camp show tune driven track, Snow, from the new album.
Evan Dando flew all the way from across the pond to perform the first single from the new album, Wake Up In New York. His voice has certainly matured - this should be a hit if theirs any justice.
Weather Storm sounded better than I have ever heard it and the same for Io Canto, which showcased Craig's excellent piano playing. I have never really considered his approach until actually seeing him tackle these tunes on a Grand; he is a very accomplished performer.
Antye Greie-Fuchs from German experimental trip-hoppers Laub appeared with her lap top to perform Waltz, a tune which suddenly made so much sense in the flesh.
A neck tingling Balcony Scene (Romeo and Juliet) was dedicated to Massive Attack, Melankolic and Marc Picken (Apparently it's his favourite)
Wendy Stubbs from Alpha was excellent on Sea Song and she also attempted This Love. At the beginning this had promise as she brought here own feeling to the song but it's always going to be difficult emulating Elizabeth Frasier, which I suppose is difficult to avoid.
The Opera singer Catherine Bott wandered on in an impressive looking, flowing outfit, and complimented by the Metro Voices, enhanced the ochestra with some og craigs Choral scores.
Craig rounded of the proceedings with a solo encore of My Father and a version of After The Storm with the Orchestra. The moments which simply featured the artist and the Sinfonietta, where the clear highlights of the evening. If the band had been a touring band I'm sure they would have the advantage of a tighter performance, however this is a very small gripe. It's very rare that I am captivated for a whole performance.