Review/ Manu Delago @ Fiddlers

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By Isaac Norris, Fourth year Spanish and Portuguese

Taking the audience on 'an extraordinary musical journey' Austrian percussionist and composer Manu Delago showcased his new album Circadian in an ethereal performance at Fiddlers.

The entire space suddenly plunged into complete darkness. One by one, the nine highly talented musicians made their way onto the brooding stage, with a soothing, choral loop crooning in the background. Amidst frantic flickering of head torches worn by the band, at times dizzying, they kicked off the spellbinding show with an impressive, slightly disquieting opener; a boisterous trombone blaring out short snappy notes alongside a thumping drum beat with some clashing violin notes. The whole night was brimming with mindblowing melodies and experimental rhythms, all juggled evenly between the varied instruments.

Image/Isaac Norris 

I was in complete awe at the unbelievably diverse array of music styles all seamlessly intertwined. One of the show’s highlights was ‘The Silent Flight of the Owl’; a lulling composition with woodwind instruments complemented by Delago’s striking handpan playing. During this piece, I fell into a deep reverie, a sea of eyes transfixed on the stage. The insanely talented man behind all of these carefully crafted sounds is Manu Delago, a well-known handpan player and composer hailing from Austria. I expected nothing less from Delago, who I recently had the privilege to see in Mexico touring as the live percussionist for Bjork’s new VR show.

Image/Isaac Norris 

Heavily inspired by an intense period of prolonged touring, entailing many sleepless nights, Delago’s dreamy new album, Circadian, takes the audience on an extraordinary musical journey through our 24-hour clock cycle. It all starts in the late afternoon, drifting into the night, through to the morning. Listening to the album from start to finish, you can vividly feel the 24-hour internal clock ticking away, with moments of intensity, such as 'Zeitgeber', representing the morning alarm clock, and moments of stillness, such as 'Delta Sleep', evoking the middle of the night.

Following on from my previous experience seeing Delago and his virtuosic band live at Colston Hall back in 2017, I would never have thought that memorable show could have been topped. Yet, it was. If you ever get the chance, go and see Manu Delago live, it is an otherworldly experience. He’ll play his last UK show in London and then heads to Europe to bless other fortunate ears with his ethereal music. Delago delivered his brand-new album impeccably at Fiddlers in Bristol, and I can still hear the handpan resounding faintly in my ears.

Featured Image: Isaac Norris / Epigram

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