Areaal Live, for those who have not attended the free concerts, is an annual music showcase taking place at Raadiomaja (Radio House) in Tallinn, and filmed for ERR. It is a rare and welcome opportunity to go inside the old radio offices, and to see a recording take place in a bona fide studio. Two weeks ago it was Odd Hugo who took to the stage in the grand old theatre, bringing a very modern, quirky kind of charm with their unclassifiable prog-indie-folk, which can sway in the space of one song from sounding like The Doors, to sounding like Gallagher & Lyle, to sounding like Simon & Garfunkel.
Maarja Nuut gave another atmospheric, virtuoso performance on Wednesday, and her video will be linked as soon as ERR post it. Even in such a large hall, with only Maarja, her violin and her looper as a focal point, the gig felt intimate, like a group meditation. The audience were transfixed by the complexity of Maarja's music, which contrasted with the playful myths and legends in her lyrics.
There was a moment after Maarja's concert when I heard something I really did not wish to hear. It was sad in the extreme, just as I had begin attending concerts in this historic venue, its design showing everything that was good about 1960s Soviet modernist architecture, to hear that this could be the final Areaal Live, as Raadiomaja will be completely renovated, the performance studio replaced with an area better suited to today's digitally-focused multichannel recordings.
This is admirable, although it concerns me how Tallinn seems to have a limited attachment to its Soviet past - this can be seen when you pass Linnahall and see the decaying former concert hall, now a monument to erroneous gigantism, or when you see the car park where once sat the Eesti Kunstiakadeemia (Estonian Academy of Arts). The Soviet occupation is not a period on which modern Tallinn wants to be judged - the scars of that period are still healing, and will be for generations - but surely we can all recognise when the bleak era leaves something good behind?
The radio theatre in Raadiomaja has outstanding acoustics, but more than that, it has character. Every city needs character in its buildings, in order to keep what makes it special. If Raadiomaja's performance space must be replaced, my only hope is that the live showcases continue, and that the walls echo with new stories, of great performers of the future.