As an Arts Centre supporter I recently received an invitation to the NAC’s “soft launch” night following the first stage to take look at the tremendous and impressive amount of work that has taken place over the summer. I confess to having felt somewhat bereft during its two month closure but the amount of work that has taken place in that time is breathtaking. Everywhere has had a lick of paint, the bar has been completely revamped (and the pink lighting has gone), the foyer has had improvements and the whole place feels more spacious. There is even a pop-up can bar in the foyer now but the real gasp-moment was seeing the hall. The old church roof of the auditorium looks stunning, the stage has a new PA and lighting rig and with the new speakers now suspended above and the smaller monitors the stage seems about a third as big again but this might be an illusion. There is a new sound-desk too and the capacity has even increased slightly with some changes at the back of the hall. Even the floor looks fantastic, the clean revealing beautiful parquet designs.
We had a welcome back speech from Pasco who also informed us the NAC has Grade I listed status, and Bradley also ran through some of the details of the work that had taken place and gave thanks to those involved. On top of this we had three acts playing for free but having the privilege of putting the new and clean-sounding PA through its paces so it was a pleasure to see (the) Red Dear, Miles Otto, Gladboy and of course the Arts Centre with its doors open again. It felt good to be back and I must admit I am really looking forward to hearing the likes of Acid Mothers Temple and Our Quiet Friends even more now! My second home is back and I am so pleased. An unbelievable amount has been achieved by all of those working to get it ready and the old building seems to have an increased feeling of magnificence and pride with the loving care and attention it has received. It almost feels like this beautiful church has a new sense of self-esteem and pride with the sensitive and respectful makeover it’s been given. Not only regeneration but revitalisation and this was only the first phase.
I’m still without my DSLR which is being cleaned and serviced but the new lighting seemed nice and bright so I was able to take a few photos with my compact camera.
Right at the end of the night I made a quick dash over to Jurnet’s Bar for the first Music House session after the summer break where I was just able to catch the final set which was a new project from Phoebe Troup. Some of the songs were familiar as her solo material but the presentation was completely different in this collaborative form. I did not catch the name of the project (Halph?) but it’s not a million miles away from some nineties Massive Attack with some electronic beats and hugely atmospheric vocals from Phoebe, it was hypnotic, immersive and amazing.
As Shane packed down the PA – sporting his Pink Floyd t-shirt gifted to him by Richard Penguin the previous evening – Peter Turrell played in the middle of the floor to close the evening.
Over the weekend I saw an EDP article about Jurnet’s, it seems they need our support more than ever. It’s a beautiful hidden gem of a venue but does need more custom, particularly at the bar, to help it finance itself. The Friday Music House Acoustic-ish Sessions have resumed after the summer break and Cave-In also resumes on Saturday at 7:30. All events at Jurnet’s are free.