If you’re anything like us, you’re always on the lookout for events that are in some way outside of the ordinary. Which is why, as soon as it was announced, Hey! After Hours was something we were looking forward to. Designed as a response to Projections: Works from The Artangel Collection, Hey! Manchester and Whitworth Art Gallery clearly put a lot of thought into the composition of the night’s proceedings. The result was an illuminating evening, very much of the “once in a lifetime” ilk.
Upon arrival, the Royal Northern College of Music’s Prism Quartet were spread throughout the building, with each individual performing seemingly disparate pieces that, once you reach certain points, come together to form a highly impressive whole. As far as classical music is concerned, it is always the string section that sets our pulses racing, and the Phillip Glass pieces Prism Quartet perform are particularly impressive examples of the art form. Sometimes taut and dramatic, sometimes quiet and restrained, the players provide the perfect backdrop for the evening.
As far as the Artangel pieces are concerned, Atom Egoyan’s Steenbeckett immediately stands out. 2000 feet of film is spread around a darkened room, constantly in motion, and the sound it makes is somewhere between rainfall and the quiet nighttime hum of a refrigerator; the overall effect is mesmerising. The technology-obsessed drawings and paitings of Tony Oursler capture our attention, and Catherine Yass’s High Wires – through which the artist explored the practically dystopian 20th century phenomenon of thirty-storey blocks of flats being envisaged as the future of housing provision – is also striking, with four large screens being used to depict high wire walker Didier Pasquette’s ultimately failed journey between two wind-beaten towers. It’s definitely worth making a special journey to the Whitworth to check out this exhibit.
In the midst of this setting, the ambient soundscapes of Jason Singh are quietly haunting, the sort of music that inhabits your headspace if you give it half a chance. It takes you over, takes you out of the room, and evokes moments or memories rescued from forgotten dreams: soundtrack music of the best possible kind.
Liz Green, pictured above, starts her set with just her bluesy holler and handclaps, although this introduction is something of a misnomer, as once she picks up her guitar it’s the folk influence that shines through most brightly. She seems comfortable playing in front of a room filled with fans and soon-to-be-devotees, cracking a Tom Waits-themed joke and introducing one song as “Homer’s Odyssey from the perspective of Penelope.” Her music suits the environment down to the ground, and it is quickly clear that her debut album – due out this November – is one to look forward to. If Green is able to live up to all her promise, it’ll be one to cherish, too.
We came away thoroughly satisfied with everything we’d seen, and that sensation hasn’t worn off yet. If only all art and entertainment were this affecting.