Oct. 30th, 2016

At about 8.30 last night, John Carpenter was standing on a stage about 30 yards from me, alternating between playing two-finger chords on a synthesiser and performing what my first wife would call the Brady shuffle. Named after her father, this is a dance where the performer keeps both feet firmly planted and moves solely from the hips and shoulders, so the fists rotate in small circles, slowly as if the dancer is holding a pint of Guinness and trying not to spill any. It seemed oddly fitting that he was dressed entirely in black with a fringe of white hair, looking himself not unlike a rather cadaverous pint of stout.

But a decidedly charismatic one and one who appeared to rather enjoy having around 5000 adoring fans hanging on his every note. And I was one of them. Carpenter's been one of my favourite film makers for a very long time - I first saw The Fog about 30 years ago on Moviedrome one Sunday evening. The stage had a 20 foot screen above it and scenes from the films were played on it to match the music being played. So, we had the theme from Halloween as Michael Myers loomed out of the dark behind Jamie Lee Curtis, luminous fog billowing over San Antonio Bay with music to match, the theme from The Thing as a dog writhed and changed into something unrecogniseable, Big Trouble backed with Jack Burton showing that it's all in the reflexes and Escape From New York, as on stage Carpenter changed his normal sedate boogie into something more matching Snake Plisskin's loping strut.

All images and sounds I've known for years and seeing them brought together by the man who created them all made for a startlingly powerful experience.

As the evening went on, Carpenter relished his role as a kind of keyboard playing Rod Serling, delivering stentorian introductions to tracks, climaxing with his warning to the assembled crowd to drive carefully on their way home because "Christine is waiting", leading into an ear-splitting performance of the title track from the film backed with a flaming car from Hell.

Not sure I can think of a better wayto spend Halloween. Just a shame it was two days early.


James Brough

August 2017

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