Live: Thomas Dolby @ Kings Place.

Thomas Dolby performs at Kings Place.London. Narrating, singing and playing the soundtrack to the film The Invisible Lighthouse. 9th May 2013 (Simon Jay Price)

Thomas Dolby performs at Kings Place.London. Narrating, singing and playing the soundtrack to the film The Invisible Lighthouse. 9th May 2013 (Simon Jay Price)

Thomas Dolby arrived on stage at Kings Place, London, looking like a worldly traveller with hat, jacket and satchel. The Gatsby look! After taking the applause he sat at his piano and started the soundtrack to the film The Invisible Lighthouse. A short 32 minute film he directed and appears in about the last light of Orford Ness lighthouse in Suffolk.

He talks about childhood perceptions of things seeming electric, brighter and better when we are young and somehow a disappointment when we revisit when older. Narrating and accompanying himself on the baby grand, a keyboard, a Access Virus TI Polar synth and a couple of Mac Book Pro’s, the first song from his repertoire takes shape and we hear Europa and the Pirate Twins.

We learn a little of the family history,  his great grandfather Newson Garrett buying the old warehouse in Snape and turning it into the maltings. The place where malt used for beer is made. The building later became the Snape Maltings Concert Hall home of the Aldeburugh Festival run by Benjamin Britten.

His return to his native Suffolk takes us on a brief journey through his past, playing to one hundred thousand people at Live Aid, to three hundred thousand at The Wall in Berlin and having hit records. Thomas does not mention his time away from the limelight where he was part of several companies developing electronic software.

Dolby shot The Invisible Lighthouse over the course of a year. Part of the fun was researching the new technology that helped him bring his vision together. The DIY shooting package he chose consisted of GoPro cameras, a Panasonic HC-V700M, and an AR Parrot drone with a built-in 720p camera operated from his i-phone and we see him flying it around the concert hall in Snape.

Delving in a little more we learn about strange goings-on in Orford-Ness where two American airbase personal see a strange light in the sky and witness a UFO landing on what was once military ground. The site is marked by wooden posts where the tripod landing legs from the space craft touched down and is now a source of a pilgrimage for many wanting to see the Roswell of England. Of course the US airman change their story every time they are asked about it so credibility seems in doubt.

The linking point to this story is the Orford Ness Lighthouse where the light was instrumental in his childhood memories and a possible mix-up with the airmen seeing this light and not a UFO. We learn from The Guinness Book of Records, one of his books kept from childhood, that the lighthouse has the brightest light in the UK but many years later the number of jewels was reduced and the luminance diminished. So possibly things could be the way he remembered them, bright and vibrant.

A space cadet Thomas Dolby lands on the Ness with his one man power boat and stealthily approaches the lighthouse, in an effort to discover more about spooky happenings and future film opportunities, which in atomic haze suddenly disappears. The joke goes on a little too long and a very enjoyable film is perhaps slightly spoilt. He admits that some scenes are not yet edited and some parts not complete at all.

The film ends with the delightful and atmospheric duet with Eddie Reader, Oceanea from the album Map Of The Flaoting City recorded at in his boat studio in his garden at home in Suffolk. The studio/boat called Nutmeg of Consolation is an old 1930’s ships lifeboat that he bought in 2007 from a farm in Wilshite. The boat with a good mahogany interior was to be burned unless Thomas salvaged it just in time.

Thomas Dolby performs at Kings Place.London. Narrating, singing and playing the soundtrack to the film The Invisible Lighthouse. 9th May 2013 (Simon Jay Price)

Thomas Dolby performs at Kings Place.London. Narrating, singing and playing the soundtrack to the film The Invisible Lighthouse. 9th May 2013 (Simon Jay Price)

When I spoke to him on the phone, he actually called me, he told me that this was just the start of the project and that in the Autumn he hopes to take the show to small venues, old cinemas, with a few accompanying musicians.

The reaction from the Kings Place audience was really encouraging. We had a great insight into an electronic pioneers life as someone who cares about environment, his studio is run on solar and wind power, science and the development of earths resources.  What comes next could be the really exciting part this was an intimate taster.

Review and Photography: Simon Jay Price

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