What do you do when you happen to be in London? Go watch film director Jim Jarmusch’s first UK performance with his band is what.
Written by Sigrid Huber
Sometimes London loves to live up to its stereotypes. In the last couple of days the city on the Thames seemed to drown in the rain and as additional “fun” the tube staff strikes for 48 hours. The only person who was able to convince me to leave the house was a master of cinematic art – Jim Jarmusch.
Before his latest movie “Only Lovers Left Alive” hits the cinemas in two weeks time “Rock and Roll” director Jarmusch presented his film, very stereotypically as well, at the home of movie premieres in the big smoke: Leicester Square. It would not be Jarmusch without a little something on the side though. The dress code was leather & sunglasses and unsurprisingly the Odeon was filled with Jarmusch evangelists dressed as rock stars. A convinced minority even wore their sunglasses till the end of the movie..
During his opening speech Jim Jarmusch gave thanks to the leading actors of the film – Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. 123 minutes later there was no question why. “Only Lovers Left Alive” is first and foremost one of the most beautiful love stories directed in years. The dubious “vampire story” was basically used to show the eternity of love and how irrelevant space and time become as soon you have met your perfect match. The movie is not as sticky as one might think. With a lot of dry wit and precise punch lines Jarmusch defuses the melancholia of his film but does not stop to scatter hints that lead to the big questions in life. Only lovers left alive is definitely a must see – especially for melancholic poets & rock stars.
The not very stereotypical thing about the premiere was the following concerts. Music lover Jarmusch celebrated his premiere with a special night at Heaven nightclub around the corner, and presented a selection of the bands on the soundtrack. A mob of sunglasses-clad fans therefore hit the road and headed towards the legendary venue to soak up a little more of that Jarmusch magic.
Opposites attract is not only a pattern in the movie – it re-occurs in the soundtrack when music from the south and west clashes. The “after party” started with the quiet performance of Jozef Van Wissem. The Dutch composer is the man in charge of the soundtrack. A piece of work he did incredibly well and has already won the Cannes Soundtrack Award for “Only Lovers Left Alive”. While the Heaven slowly filled, Van Wissem seemed to transfer the mood from the cinema seats directly to the front of the stage – even though the stage looked a bit too big for just the lone artist and his lute sitting on a chair.
Lebanese singer Yasmin Hamdan truly needed this additional bit of stage for her and the band on the other hand. The oriental sounds complemented the atmosphere created by their predecessor. She truly has an extraordinary voice but weirdly enough her hip swinging in combination with her leather outfit constantly made us think of Shakira. Something which definitely didn’t fit the picture.
The unofficial highlight was of course the performance of Jarmusch’s band SQÜRL. Most likely because it was also the first UK appearance of the NYC trio lead by Jim Jarmusch, who is as passionate a musician as he is a director. It took him nearly three songs to find his way from the very back of the stage to the front, and seemed happy with the his role as the “anti stage hogger” personified
The way he performed hints at his movies leading character Adam, and adds a personal note to our inner review about “Only Lovers Left Alive”. Befuddled by the atmosphere of the night we were not even shocked when we realized that we just watched this gig shoulder to shoulder with Jamie Hince and Kate Moss.
Heavens’s audience had halved by the time Sqürl’s last chord was played. Even Jarmusch’s advice to stay as the upcoming band While Hills is “amazing” could not convince the majority. But again we could see a stereotype – only the real cool kids stay till curfew. Dressed in leather and sunglasses.