Buswell band leader, Shaun, seems to go out of his way to, if not deliberately make life tough for himself, certainly take the path less travelled. Having set himself the challenge of putting on a full orchestral show from musicians he met randomly on the London Underground and then used that experience to create a presentation talk which went to The Edinburgh Fringe, shows just how outside the box he thinks compared to your regular circuit bands. His recent show at The Victoria was just the next illogical step along this strange meandering path. Here he led a band made up of a few of his regular musicians, friends out of musical retirement just for this show, members of his fluid pool of musical contacts and people who had just turned up and joined in. The criteria seemed to be if you could sight-read music and be in town on the night, you could be part of the band.
After consummate sets by Matt Adel and Erik Nyberg aka Last Box of Sparklers, his regular support act for this tour whose set included Shaun providing the most middle-class rapping to the worst rap song in history, tonight’s one off Buswell collective took the stage. And the result, possibly against all odds, was stunning. Against a backdrop of sweeping strings, a tight rhythm section, piano and clarinet, songs loaded with emotive depth, soaring dynamics, space and atmospherics were presented, songs such as Lebanon, Don’t Go Wasting Time, It’s You, Let Me Love and a host of other songs chosen by lot by the audience. Again taking the path of most resistance it would seem.
For any normal, rehearsed, fixed line up band this was a great set, considering the factors involved here this was something truly remarkable and a testament to the abilities of the players, spirit of the band and vision of their front man, not to mention the courage and/or pure recklessness required to even entertain such a format. And as well as being a wonderful and surprising night, it is also another chapter in the next round of presentations where the trials and tribulations, highs and lows of this tour can be dissected and discussed at length.