NEXT: The Necks contemplate future spontaneous ignitions. PHOTO: John Tapia Urquiza
NEXT: The Necks contemplate future spontaneous ignitions. PHOTO: John Tapia Urquiza

The momentum of the moment

"And we always start off our tours at the Corner. It's become a tradition."

It would be the only tradition that The Necks adhere to. They've become renowned around the world for intense, one-off performances. While they have a traditional three-piece jazz line-up with Chris Abrahams on piano, Tony Buck on drums and Lloyd on bass, there's nothing particularly jazz, rock, or distinctly anything else about their performances.

The trio, all highly experienced performers, walk onstage with no preconceived ideas on what they're about to play. One of them starts with an idea, and the others join in. What ensues are long, mesmerizing improvisations that are utterly captivating and never to be repeated.

Lloyd is adamant that they've never orchestrated a performance or a recording.

"It's been the principle we've used. We get onstage and one of us starts with an idea and we pursue that for the next 45 minutes or whatever. We can't reinvent the wheel every night but we all have our favourite ideas we can dig into. If any of us gets the perception that it's gone into too familiar an area we would probably just move away from that."

The first time I ever saw/heard The Necks was in the Metro Theatre in Sydney. It was booked out and there was standing room only at the back. I was already tired and doubted if I could stand up through an entire concert. But from the minute they started playing, I was transfixed and when, around 90 minutes later they stopped, I could have sworn what transpired in between took only minutes.

Those performances - and the extraordinary 16 albums The Necks have released - are the subject of entire chapters in books on music and the object of devoted audiences around the world. Australia's National Film and Sound Archive included The Neck's 2001 album Aether among ten recordings considered to be of particular significance in its 2012 National Registry of Recorded Sound.

The band started 25 years ago, rehearsing for their own enjoyment, before taking to stages and realising that people shared their enthusiasm for the enthralling music they were making.

After manifold sold-out shows in Australia, Tony Buck moved to Berlin, where he was involved in various collaborations, and The Necks began playing in Europe as often as they could. Since then they've attracted the attention of the likes of Nick Cave and avant garde composer Brian Eno, performing his sci-fi musical adventure This Is Pure Scenius amongst the various significant festivals on their European touring circuit.

Lloyd chuckles when asked whether they'd ever faltered onstage or run out of inspiration.

"You take the stage with varying degrees of inspiration from night to night, but with three of us onstage there's a fair chance of someone having a good idea and we've got a good track record of being able to share that creative spark.

"The shifting of the centre of gravity in a piece is what keeps the music alive -sometimes two of us can stick together in a holding pattern while the other one can explore his inner momentum - but it's all really down to our instinctive choices in the moment."

The Necks, with their new album, Mindset, play the Byron Community Centre on Wednesday, February 6, at 8pm. Tickets are $25/28 from http://byroncentre.com.au/whats-on.


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