The Spaghetti Western Orchestra are a five-piece from Australia who between them manage to play around a hundred instruments in their 75-minute humorous tribute to the music of Ennio Morricone. The main instruments used are drums, vibraphone, double bass, keyboard/baby grand piano, mandolin, bassoon and trumpet. Their set is also an exercise in Foley techniques to simulate the sort of sound effects you would hear in a typical spaghetti western. So we get bar room chatter and the simulated sound of a hotel sign squeaking in the wind (by flapping a creaky hinge up against the microphone). They also use samples to give us the sound of flies buzzing in our ears and gunshots echoing around the stage.
The drummer starts the set by playing a string can guitar, literally a single wire stretched taut over a small oil can that can then be plucked or played like a violin using a bow. From there we’re into an array of sounds from the various instruments strewn around the stage. All the recognisable Morricone tunes are played. “For a few dollars more”, “A Fistful Of Dollars” and “Once upon a time in the West” sound as epic as ever, and it’s great to see everything from water sloshed around in a boot, an asthma inhaler, beer bottles filled with varying amounts and a theremin being used to bring the music to life.
There’s a great scene where they simulate the sound of people tracking each other through the undergrowth by crunching the microphone into a packet of cornflakes and a bar room fight scene that employs the sounds made from sticky tape, chains, biting into an apple, a clothes brush, padlocks and slapping a tree branch onto a huge kettle drum.
They end the set by dividing the audience in half and getting each half to sing the opening call and response wailing vocal part to “The good, the bad and the ugly”. It’s a hugely entertaining show, one part “Stomp” to two parts great musicianship and the encore involving simulating a short fight by chopping up lettuce, a bicycle pump with a balloon, slapping their various body parts and twisting a knotted rope is a neat visual way to end their set.
Great to watch and listen to. Definitely an entertaining live show worth checking out again.
A nod to the man Jack Foley http://www.marblehead.net/foley/jack.html