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The BBC Philharmonic and Nero at MediaCityUK

Simon Binns watches a musical mash-up on Salford Quays

Written by . Published on June 7th 2011.

The BBC Philharmonic and Nero at MediaCityUK

COLLABORATIONS, duets, mash ups – call them what you will. But bringing together different musical styles can often product interesting results.

IMG_3291.JPGSo it was on Salford Quays as dubstep heroes Nero performed with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in their swanky new studios on MediaCityUK, as part of Radio 1’s dubstep week.

The whole two hour show around the event, presented by Zane Lowe and Mistajam, was live from Salford (or Sall-Ford, as Lowe kept pronouncing it) on Radio 1 and 1Xtra – a feather in the cap for BBC North, who had boss man Peter Salmon in attendance, tapping his foot in all the right places.

The performance was a fantastic example of what can be done at MediaCityUK and that as a city, we’re extremely lucky to have the Philharmonic.

Around 250 people had managed to get their hands on free tickets for the event – most of them from the dubstep side instead of the classical – creating an interesting melting pot of folk inside the studio. But this is what MediaCityUK is all about, right?

First thing to note; watching a radio show is not that interesting. Two men stand behind a desk talking to each other. Second thing (a by-product of the first); that building needs a bar – although I hear moves may already be afoot on that front.

IMG_3272.JPGSo what about the symphony itself? Stirring stuff, and certainly more reliant on orchestral than dubstep – although that’s perhaps to be expected given that one side had 90 instruments and the other had two laptops and an electronic drum pad.

The piece itself was a thing of tempestuous beauty however – dark, heavy bass and drums offset by the beautiful urgency of a magical string section. It built and built like a storm threatening to overturn a beleaguered fishing boat until a crash, then…silence, until a gentle violin solo turned the mood completely and built once more into a pulsating crescendo.

It was 18 minutes long and it could have gone on for the same again as far as I was concerned. I heard it back on the radio this morning, and noticed the vocals to Nero’s ‘Guilt’ laid over the top. I swear I couldn’t hear them in the live version, but the noise from the instruments was so overpowering that perhaps they got lost in the ether. It didn’t really matter.

IMG_3280.JPGThe performance was a fantastic example of what can be done at MediaCityUK (as Zane Lowe was careful to call it all evening – no doubt he’d been fully briefed by Peel’s crack marketing team) and that as a city, we’re extremely lucky to have the Philharmonic.

Hopefully, BBC North will remain committed to putting on these sorts of events, and letting the public in to see them. It shouldn’t die away after the initial ‘welcome to the neighbourhood’ atmosphere being generated for staff moving up from London, or anywhere else.

The Pet Shop Boys called in to have a look, fresh from supporting Take That, and Chase and Status were apparently there too, ahead of their Sunday night set at Parklife in Platt Fields. Even Nero’s Mum and Dad came along to join the mix of youths in caps, media middle management in shirts and chinos and those somewhere in between.

An evening that was bang on the (licence payers’) money and a pretty decent showcase for Salford.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get my high-tops back from Peter Salmon.

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