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The Cinematic Orchestra with The London Metropolitan Orchestra and Heidi Vogel – Live at The Royal Albert Hall, November 2010

A Review of The Cinematic Orchestra Live at The Royal Albert Hall, November 14. Featuring an interview with their vocalist, Heidi Vogel

Written by Helen Martin

Cinematic Orchestra by Matilde Sazio

Man With A Movie Camera Illustration by Matilde Sazio

The Cinematic Orchestra were playing on the laptop. With the rain petering down outside, the tarmac awash with its newfound uninhabitable river, I opened the enormous wooden door and peered outside. I didn’t want to go and rush away with the stream of no return. I wanted to stay here, with him. His jeans were baggy and beautiful, his carpet pulled at the soles of my tights. I left. To Build A Home faded.

Walking back along the slippery treadmill of road I made no effort to shelter from the swiping blankets of droplets. My brow furrowed and my eyes looked up as I stood at the top of the hill and looked at the sea from left to right, my heart taking my breath away. Unquestionably gluttonous for punishment I fell into my room and To Build A Home was alive again. I was confused. I was in love.

Dawn by The Cinematic Orchestra is on and i’m walking to the beach, with a cider and baguette in my backpack. It’s a beautiful sunny day and the strings mix with the birds as I feel my eyes glint in the harmony of the simplicity of now. Of this love sitting against the wall.

The Royal Albert Hall Karina Yarv

The Royal Albert Hall Illustration by Karina Yarv

I’m at The Royal Albert Hall, Breathe by The Cinematic Orchestra is playing live. The London Metropolitan Orchestra are stationed and moving with fierce precision. The circle envelops me, I look and he smiles. I peer the miles down from our sectioned box and I see Heidi Vogel is about to unleash and pour her voice over the hall again. She does it slowly and blends with the instruments before together they gallop and circulate the grand hall, swirling us up in a haze of stunning sound.

Heidi Vogel by Matilde Sazio

Heidi Vogel, Illustration by Matilde Sazio

The Cinematic Orchestra in their live form are impressive and encapsulating. Like tablets of emotion, they use their prowess to orchestrate and leave impressions upon the many. They were formed in 1999 by Jason Swinscoe. A Ninja Tune employee, he arrived in South London from Scotland, via Yorkshire and Cardiff. With a love of jazz bass players, rhythm sections and film soundtracks he worked on The Cinematic Orchestra in his own time. After getting together a group of jazz players, he delivered the debut album, ‘Motion’, on the Ninja Tune. It was considered the perfect soundtrack to the dangerous bar, the femme fatale, the hero and the dead, with throbbing riffs, repeated loops and instrumental phrases. It’s music on tenterhooks, awaiting the next explosion of this, that and everything.


The Cinematic Orchestra tracks certainly sound as though they have been lifted from a gorgeous, very visual film, yet of course these films do not exist. That is, they didn’t until their first film soundtrack came along in the shape of ‘Man With A Movie Camera’. In 1999. Swinscoe was asked by the organisers of the Porto European City of Culture 2000 if the band wanted to score a silent movie to open the celebrations. The film was Dziga Vertov’s ‘Man With A Movie Camera’, a 1929 early documentary cinema film from the Soviet Union, focusing on the daily life of an average worker. The work made the band think about unwrapping musical narratives slowly, combing sounds and textures. Influencing ‘Every Day’, the ‘Man With A Movie Camera’ album was released in 2003, on Ninja Tune. ‘Every Day’ was The Cinematic Orchestra’s second album, released again on Ninja Tune. With ten minute tunes, like ‘All Things to All Men’, they experimented with softly, softly orchestra mixed with moody deep notes. Swinscoe worked with bass player, Phil France on this album and enlisted the talents of Roots Manuva and modern Jazz legend, Luke Flowers.

‘Ma Fleur’ on Ninja Tune, is the band’s latest album, released in 2007, and features To Build A Home, as well as Breathe and Child Song. It feels very refined and yet sporadic in its waterfall outbursts of music. Adding to their film credentials, The Cinematic Orchestra also recorded the soundtrack to the Disneynature film The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos in 2008. They also released; Live At The Royal Albert Hall in 2008, on Ninja Tune, after their last performance at the prestigious Hall.


Listening to their music in such a venue can only be described as very special. It is one of those ‘nothing and yet everything matters right now’ moments. You are right there with every note, engulfed in a hall, reverberating in the clarity the sounds produce. It is difficult not to be moved by the rising and falling emotions, the burst of the strings, the flowing piano. The serene and yet momentous feeling. So what an earth can it be like to actually be on that stage, and play at The Royal Albert Hall, so steeped in grandeur, beauty and respect? I asked Heidi Vogel some questions about this after her incredible performance.

What was it like performing at The Royal Albert Hall last night?
It was a night I will never forget.  Performing at the Albert Hall,  on that beautiful stage,  and in such a beautiful space,  looking out to a sea of people filling the entire hall to its fullest capacity, is an experience unlike anything else.


What was the best moment for you?
Standing at the side of the stage waiting to come onto the stage for my first vocal of the evening, which was on ‘Burn Out’. I was so excited to come onto the stage and join in with the Orchestra, to be part of the music that was being made. I was standing there, all ready and the Orchestra had come in for the beginning of Ivo’s piano solo. It was such a moving moment in the music, and I felt my hairs standing up hearing it being played like that with The London Metropolitan Orchestra. It was really something so special.

How does the RAH compare to other venues around the world? Where in the world have you loved performing?
Well RAH can’t be compared to anywhere in the world,  it is so completely special and unique. I have played on many wonderful stages that I loved, and RAH is unique among them all. We have played in Sete in France in the open air Roman Amphitheatre on the sea, and lovely outdoor stages such as in Toronto Harbourfront, or Milan Jazz Festival, The Big Chill, Fuji Rock,  and many beautiful theatres, festivals and countries that we loved.


This night was Ninja Tune’s 20th birthday, Ninja Tune XX. They celebrated with the band that produces real and imaginary film soundtracks, formed in the minds of people whose lives they have run beside. Without an actual film, the music lends itself to whatever narrative you bestow upon it. To me obviously, this has allowed me to wallow in my own sadness and skip in ecstasy (ha!) But to see The Cinematic Orchestra live was to feel the elation of an evening comprising of a huge range of talented musicians, performing beautifully. It was a night to rejoice in the achievement of humans producing descriptive and emotive sound that mirrors and acknowledges life in all its forms and idiosyncrasies.


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One Response to “The Cinematic Orchestra with The London Metropolitan Orchestra and Heidi Vogel – Live at The Royal Albert Hall, November 2010”

  1. [...] We watched the Cinematic Orchestra at The Royal Albert Hall. Very hard to put into words what it was like, but here is my attempt: Click HERE. [...]

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