Boris wasn't seen in the crowd
Unless you’re Ringo Starr it’s a fairly well established position within the musical world to oppose Brexit, to reject what Brexit stands for and the narrowing of horizons that goes along with it. Mention the issue in any artist interview, and more commonly than not the response will be that, yes, of course, it’s a bad thing. But no-one has articulated this view musically quite so explicitly or as strikingly as Matthew Herbert and his Brexit Big Band.
Herbert’s diverse background includes stints as a dance remixer, composer, and – very pertinently now – a brief involvement with the Eurovision song contest; since the turn of the millennium though he has been brandishing his big band sound. The central premise of his two-year project is this: it began on the day that Article 50 was triggered, and will culminate in an album release on the day that Britain leaves the EU. Along the way, there are collaborations and alliances with musicians from each of the remaining twenty-seven EU countries, and tonight’s show, while huge in itself, is just one small part of this.
No surprise that it’s a one-sided crowd in tonight – and the atmosphere is predictably one of warm agreement. The audience are repeatedly told that this is a celebration, not a protest, and it really does feel like that – a tangible demonstration of the joy of cross-border collaboration.