Monday, 5 July 2010

The Hand, Rachael Dadd and Itchi at The Union Chapel

Rachael Dadd storms on to the stage in a black leotard with red lightening insignias emblazoned upon her bejewelled thighs as she stands posing like She-Ra leaning on a Flying V…no, not really. In fact, Dadd acts as a host of this welcome sedate Saturday gig, part of a regular Daylight Music series at the hip place of worship in aid of the homeless and it’s actually her husband, Itchi, who makes an entrance more shocking than a sane person in a British lending library.
The little Japanese man lurches through the pews on a pair of homemade stilts, singing and ringing bells on his legs. Back on two feet, his set is a surreal half hour of astonishing rhythm with inventive ‘tunes’ largely involving Itchi singing in a high pitched voice through a manipulative fake moustache, deflating balloons and ending songs by bursting paper bags. But the most shocking thing – more so even than him filling a steel drum with water and swilling a golf ball round it – is that it’s actually good. In fact, when Itchi sings a couple of traditional Japanese songs with an instrument that looks like a saucepan welded to a bike lock, it’s beautiful. Apparently, he’s got an ‘experimental’ side project, the mind boggles…
Dadd flips the brains of the quite stunned audience shortly after Itchi has departed unsteadily on the stilts with her wholesome folk. Her wavering, Joni Mitchell-like voice finds a new level when backed by her accomplished piano-playing and belies the fact she has been touring and releasing records for almost a decade now. The Bristolian’s latest project is The Hand, in which she is joined by pianist and kora player Wig Smith, the driver on the tourist boat on which Dadd used to work, for the final set. The duo have palpable chemistry on stage and as Dadd’s vocal ebbs and flows over Smith’s steady shore of a singing voice, it is clear that the thoughtful lyricist is perfectly at home in such a reverential location.  

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