[custom_field field=”image” this_post=”1″ limit=”0″ between=”, ” /][custom_field field=”image” this_post=”1″ limit=”0″ between=”, ” /]One of my favourite albums of 2010 was Owen Pallett‘s Heartland and I have loved his music since I first heard it (as the geekily but poorly named Final Fantasy). So I always try to see him when he comes to London and this year, it just so happened he was playing at the Barbican – on my birthday!

So I got a few mates together to go down and witness the premiere of his Violin Concerto, and in the second half a group of his contemporaries played together as ‘An 802 Moment’. They included Nico Muhly, Sam Amidon and other luminaries of the alt-folk scene.

I sang behind Sam Amidon at an Arctic Circle gig a couple of years ago, and since then have listened regularly to his deadpan experimental American folk. In the set, streamed below, Sam takes the vocal reins much of the time, although Owen sings the Neil Young classic ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ at about 41’40”. My highlight though was the epic murder ballad closer, ‘The Only Tune‘, here heard at around the 46’ mark.

The tune concerns two sisters:

In most versions of the tale, one sister kills the other over a boy. One is dark, and one is fair; one receives a token of the boy’s love, while the other seethes with envy. When the song is sung in Ireland, for example, her hair is used to string a harp played on the murderess’s wedding day, whereas in this rendition it strings a fiddle-bow.

During the reprise of this song, the violinists came out along the aisles to accompany those on stage. It was a simply staged, spine-chilling moment.

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