Mike Patton and Fred Frith

Queen Elizabeth Hall

Thursday, 18 June, 2009
As part of Ornette Coleman’s MELTDOWN

by Joanna Orland

Mike Patton is somewhat of a mystique, enigma, musical legend. His musical CV reads like a course outline for a history of music genres. Best known as the lead singer of Epic band FAITH NO MORE, and his own band Mr. Bungle, alongside other musical endeavors, most non-mainstream, some may be surprised to discover Mr. Patton has also lent his vocal talents to voice over work. My favourite line from his biography is:

“Mike also provided the voices of the monsters in the 2007 film I Am Legend starring Will Smith.”

Weird, but not surprising.

Anyway, I wasn’t sure what to expect when Mike Patton took the stage with guitarist Fred Frith and surprise appearance by famed beatboxer Shlomo. It was slightly more musical than expected, lying somewhere between the genres of “noise music” and “avant garde” or “experimental”.

I wouldn’t say this was the most mind-blowing performance showcasing inspirational talent, but what I would say is that this was very mesmerizing, enjoyable noise music by a man who has been doing this sort of thing for a very long time, but who still clearly visibly enjoys his work. I had previously expected Patton to come out on stage with an authoritative overbearing dark presence, but he’s just a big kid who grins shamelessly when he makes a cool sound with his pedals. So endearing!!

The surprise cameo by Shlomo added another layer of fun to the show as it picked up the mood a bit to really get the energy flowing. A definite enhancement to the otherwise noise-based performance.

So Mike Patton gets 2 thumbs up from us. And if you’re wondering why there’s a photo of our ticket and photo pass rather than of Mike himself, well there is a perfectly logical explanation for this. You see… we were having a bit of an off night. We went to collect our press tickets and gave the poor box office people the wrong name. After causing stink number 1, we then entered the venue and asked where we were supposed to go since we had this photo pass. The staff were very kind and made a big deal of coming over to our seats to tell us that at the start of the show we could go up to the stage for 10 minutes to take photos of Mike. Um, then I noticed my camera battery was dead. So professional. With the staff having already asked me if I was a “proper photographer” and me saying, “well I have this pass that says I am” (see pass in above pic), I couldn’t really back down now. So when the staff came to tell me it was time for the photographers to go up to the stage to photograph Mike, I swallowed my pride and marched right up to the stage with my dead camera and pretended to take photos. Yes, I pretended to take photos. It was somehow the least embarrassing thing I could do at the time. Anyway, that is why there is no photo of Mike Patton, but a wonderful photo of my photo pass which proves that I’m a “proper photographer”.

The End
(of my photo journalistic career)

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