Rarely do a venue and an event create such a perfect synergy. It is as though the Romanian Restaurant was created to host events such as this. Although it is located in central London, the restaurant is authentic in many details; for example the staff are brusque and few speak English. The prices are, however, high – along with the quality – and an air of bohemian informality abounds.

Yet, this being London, this is a faux bohemia; a designer indulgence in European culture. The clothes, while looking as though they were recovered from authentic thrift shops in Bucharest, are actually finely hemmed garments, worn by the city's glitterati. Only a few genuine Romanian voices can be heard, and these brave few are swamped by the scenesters who have descended for the night.

A Hawk and a Hacksaw are hot property right now. Stopping off on their way to play the Portishead All Tomorrow's Parties event at Camber Sands the following weekend, the group is a mixture of American craft and European sounds. The band is a new project from Jeremy Barnes, famed for his roll as drummer in Neutral Milk Hotel, but could not be further detached from his previous ensemble. Barnes has traveled the world in recent years, since the demise of Neutral Milk Hotel, picking up snippets of language and music from various regions of the globe, and here attempts to meld them into a single uniform style. And tonight the group's set is composed of freeform interpretations of their recorded work to date; including the album 'The Way the Wind Blows' and this year's 'Hun Hangár Ensemble' EP.

Taking the stage at around nine thirty, Barnes is joined by violinist Heather Trost - with this duo forming the core of the group – as well as a trumpet player and a man on a barroom tack piano. Together the group create folk music for an elite crowd; a form of chamber music for the Marques De Sade. They run through their music as though purely for fun, baiting the crowd to dance. At first few respond, but moments to melodic brinkmanship ensure feet begin tapping and knees begin lifting.

Mixing Eastern European lumbering folk with experimental jazz the group has a facinating sound. In the back rooms of all the bars of the new entrants to the European Union bands equal to this ply their trade without pretension, but here under the bright lights of a Western capital there is a certain novelty to the act which brings credibility. At times completive and regretful, A Hawk and A Hacksaw are capable of moving swiftly to up-tempo gypsy stomps, which are met with yelps of delight from the crowd.

There is broken with a conga line around the room, handing out instruments to the crowd to involve them in the show, which is met with joyous surprise. Overall however, detached from their natural habitat, these sounds are deflected like arrows from a shield. Too many are unwilling to dance or take a chance on sacrificing their cultured detachment, and the event suffers as a whole. A Hawk and A Hacksaw are an intriguing and beguiling band, but they need support from their audience to produce a striking performance in the live arena.












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Commenting On: Club Zigana, the Romanian Restaurant, London, 4/12/2008 - A Hawk and A Hacksaw








ie London, England

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