a hawk and a hacksaw– SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER –

It’s Friday night and the Soup Kitchen crowd is itching for a musical tussle. Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost of New Mexico walk quietly onto the stage and without any introduction, shift the collective mood up an intellectual notch. Trost leads the opening piece with a gentle chorus that reverberates as if she has a hundred voices, and while she teases her violin expertly, Barnes colours the empty notes with his beautiful accordion’s lament.

These are two musicians at the height of their expertise, pushing and pulling their instruments to the limit in order to accommodate the merciless musical pilgrimage they have chosen to embark on. The rhetoric is unmistakeably Turkish, and the pair do not shy away from the complex time signatures and major-minor ambiguities typical of traditional Turkish folk music. Their repertoire is at times whimsical and at others joyful, but always demanding; on the violin Trost’s left fingers are a ceaseless blur, while Barnes pounds and stretches his grandiose accordion to within an inch of its life.

You would think that to be so brilliant would require absolute instrument monogamy but the former drummer of Neutral Milk Hotel is just as impressive on percussion, with a powerful sense of rhythm that sends shockwaves through Trost’s frenzied violining. Just as adeptly Barnes conjures up a poetic contrast on the hammer dulcimer, which quivers vulnerably at his command. These pieces – for they are intellectual works of art – are aching and majestic and of another place. The imagery that accompanies any Hawk and a Hacksaw gig is potent; in the mind’s eye one sees the early morning sunrise breaking over the Sultan Mountains in the distance.

Trost is an incredible violinist in her own right, with a stunning expertise that the musical heart can barely keep pace with. Her voice is quietly beautiful, twisting up and down the very Eastern vocals without missing a single, nuanced half-note. Together she and Barnes duel and duet through their magnificent repertoire without taking a single musical breath, and it is clear that we are in the company of masters. In the dark Soup Kitchen cavity, we have been treated to a veritable Turkish delight.

Bee Gebhardt

A jack-ette of all trades (and arguably mistress of none), I’m an editor, law student, avid runner, travel fiend, wine-guzzler and above all, music lover. Originally from South Africa, I’m now a proud Mancunian. This city is awesome − the only thing I can complain about is the damn weather.