Nigel Kennedy plays in a bar in Kings Cross

On Thursday night I went to see one of the most iconic musicians in the world. In a pub in Kings Cross:
“Please welcome onto the stage, the greatest violinist in the world,” are hardly words used in Sydney’s Kings Cross very often, yet, on Thursday night in an area more at home to strippers, ice addicts and baffled backpackers, something truly mesmerising and magical occured.Daniel from Time Out had been given a tip-off that English violinist Nigel Kennedywould be performing in the tiny Kell’s Bar in the Cross, so we went along, half expecting a wild goose chase considering how the man can fill arenas. Surprisingly though, within half-an-hour we were sitting on the floor of a small room with about 100 other people while the great man, still with punk hair, clompy boots and a rock n roll attitude (how many other classical musicians would refer to a CD they like as being: “a motherfucker of an album”?) dazzled us on an electric violin.

Kennedy led a five piece band, including double bass, keys, sax and drums, through two lengthy sets of jazz numbers, many of which were improvised. The Brit (who had clearly had a drink or ten) could barely contain his excitement as impossibly impressive (and occasionally noodly) solos bounced off each other, while he waited to astound with his own turns which went from being delicate efforts using a loop pedal to ear shredding carnage more suited to a rock gig.

It should hardly be surprising that he was getting such enjoyment out of being on stage with four impressive musicians; to perform in a such a tiny bar for a couple of hours shows a real love of music that befits someone who, even after all these years, is still at the very top of his game.

Words by Bobby Townsend