I work at the box office at the American Repertory Theatre and, being a gigantic music fanatic and a musician myself, I’m always particularly interested in keeping tabs on what musicians are currently coming through the building in order to work on various projects.
When it was announced that Andy Moor from the band The Ex was coming to Cambridge to create music for our production of Wings Of Desire my excitement level approached a near frenzy. I had seen The Ex a few years ago at the Middle East Club in Central Square and it was one of the most exhilarating live performances I had ever seen.
The Ex are a band from the Netherlands, a land which I’ve never visited, but which I am grateful for their musical exports. I arrived at their show by chance on the recommendation of a friend. I hadn’t heard anything about the band except that they had been together a very long time. The show they put on that night had this peculiar feeling which, if I had to guess, must be similar to the feeling scientists get when they witness atoms split. The band seemed almost unaware of the audience and yet there was an immediate bond between performer and concertgoer. I have memories of that night that surely have no basis in reality: for instance, there’s no chance someone was actually pouring molten metal onto the guitar speakers during the encore. But the guitar landscapes achieved by The Ex have the ability to create convincing, lasting imagery. My inability to see how they achieved their means, even as it took place clear as day in front of me, was perplexing and a bit scary to me. It was like a bit of sorcery had been achieved. That’s why it’s difficult to write this piece: if you don’t know how the magic trick was achieved its difficult to explain it to others. But that’s a beautiful thing in itself.
Near the end of the show the two guitarists in the band stood face to face, thrashing their strings at superhuman speeds, seemingly fighting and praising one another at the same time, as the crescendo built up and up with no ceiling in sight. I remember looking around the audience and feeling lucky to share something so unique and personal like this with so many people. And that’s very similar to what I feel the productions at A.R.T. are trying to achieve: extremely personal moments somehow easily shared with many people ( if I weren’t somewhat uncomfortable with the religious connotations I’d use the word ‘communion’ here – whoops, I guess I just did). Therefore, it seems to me, these elements are poised to turn into a perfect concoction of blissful creativity and beauty in our upcoming stage production of Wings Of Desire. I can’t wait.
– Ryan Walsh
Ryan Walsh works in the Box Office at the American Repertory Theatre. He is also a member of the band, Hallelujah the Hills.