A very good friend of mine contacted me last week about a Sydney Festival show. We had tickets to other events but not this one. It was in fact one show I had marked as a 'maybe' but didn't buy tickets to. So I thought why not. Any show in the Spiegeltent is a great Sydney experience and hopefully the music would match the setting. It did. Genius mandolinist Chris Thile intrigued, delighted and bewildered us for over a hour. 'Twas truly a great experience.
Thile is a member of The Punch Brothers and formerly the now defunct Nickel Creek. His mandolin playing is hugely acclaimed and he lived up to the billing. It's hard enough I believe to play your own music, a blend of folk and bluegrass, for an extended period of time on a mandolin. But to tackle Bach would seem extremely daunting to me. Thile released an album last year covering Bach sonatas and partitas. So half of this show was Thile tackling Bach. And it was amazing. So intricate and complex. Truly astounding. He also plied some covers. A Louvin Brothers song and "Fast As You Can", the Fiona Apple tune. He also gave an unscripted unplugged encore on the steps outside, another Louvin Brothers song, which was a treat to be sure. Thile was also very charming and personable on stage. So all in all a great night indeed.