Review: The Tinderbox Orchestra, Queen’s Hall

Billed as a multimedia, multi-band, collaborative spectacular, the Tinderbox Project and Hidden Door’s venture didn’t work out quite as well as hoped last Saturday evening.**

Featuring Tinderbox Orchestra (a highly-regarded, enthusiastic bunch aged between 13 and 22), James Gillespie’s High School Choir, indie bands Broken Records and North Atlantic Oscillation, North Edinburgh hip-hoppers G-Code and live visuals courtesy of Hidden Door Arts Collective; the concept was an ambitious one well worth taking the risk for.

However, with a production that involved in-and-around a hundred people, the results ensured a disjointed, occasionally shambolic, sporadically uplifting event.

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Visuals failed to appear, let alone connect with the music early on. Making sure everyone could be heard was nothing short of a sound engineer’s nightmare. And the constant coming-and-going, on-and-off the stage, disrupted any sense of fluency.

The Tinderbox Orchestra, though – let it be made crystal clear – is totally exempt of any blame. They did everything that was asked of them, and they did so with a great degree of passion, accuracy and professionalism.

With the likes of Broken Records and North Atlantic Oscillation also on show; whether their collaborative involvement with the orchestra (or lack thereof) was at the producer or the groups’ behest, they nevertheless failed to utilise the benefit of having an orchestra at their disposal. Indeed, the orchestra often stood static on stage as they watched said bands do their thing.

That’s not to say they didn’t team up – they did – but not until the final two sections of a 12-piece programme. Even then, what was given to the ensemble was simplistic and unchallenging.

The evening’s theme, meanwhile, was one of “conflict”, but in this case the struggle was more to do with event co-ordination than the exploration of religious, class and race issues affecting the young people of Edinburgh.

Whenever the orchestra and G-Code did combine, however, they did so in a positive, very funky, un-conflicting manner. So to see these two work together some more would be most welcome.

That said, while the evening’s occasion was an alluring one, in the end, the producers ultimately bit off more than they could chew.