1 May 2018, Common Room, Hastings by Jess Soutar Barron
When you are travelling, you pack light, you breeze into settings, you linger when the vibe is right. And you stumble on things you didn’t expect but become just what you were looking for.
So goes tonight. The room is full of such travellers, and those who have seen a thing or two, and those who have yet to adventure but can already smell freedom. It’s picking season in Hastings; dark outside now and raining. The bar is busy. And then this unexpected thing happens; a young Spaniard in basic black, takes to the stage with an electric cello. Its cameod frame like the exoskeletal remains of a cello sent from the future mimics the cutaways at her shoulders, revealing skin. It’s all so refined and simply elegant. It’s hard to imagine this musician is a back-packing apple-picker who happened to blow in on the wind.
Diana Gomez takes up her instrument, shakes out her long Spanish locks, makes a tiny rearrangement of her neck and begins. A first note sparkles into the room, and the crowd draws in and falls silent. Prelude to Bach’s Suite 1. We’ve heard it, haven’t we, but here it is raw and real and intimate. From there Gomez brings in all her friends: Dylan, Cohen, Presley, The Beatles. Her rendition of Ed Sheeran’s Perfect, layering her cello over itself four-fold with the help of a loop pedal, is perfect. Even when she trips up on her way into a bar and misses the beat, the full grin that wraps itself so openly across her face in realisation makes it a special moment to share in; the applause there is even greater. She has us. She brings freshness to a mixtape of favourites, from ages ago when Papa was a boy to right now on the radio. She makes each her own.
There are musicians in the audience – those teenagers dragging themselves through after-school practice in half-hour chunks – who want to be this woman. Her energy, her ease, her very cool cello, the way she floated in and will soon float off again on her next adventure. And there are oldies who remember what it was to go where the wind took you, to make the most of everything, and to find friends and fans in unexpected places.
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