RAW: Music

RAW: The Bedroom Philosopher – Jive Bar, August 12

The Bedroom Philosopher is no stranger to Adelaide, having made appearances during several Fringe Festivals as well as doing gigs in between. Recently, he has performed a couple of times a year in various bars around town, always attracting a good crowd of dedicated followers.

On a cold Thursday night, the Jive Bar on Hindley Street was close to full as he took to the stage with his quirky blend of comedy and music. The audience was brimming with enthusiasm, the mood having been well set by local support acts Guilliame Soloacoustic and Cookie Baker. Joined for the first time in Adelaide by his backing group The Awkwardstra, the performance had a more robust sound to go with his amusing lyrics.

The Bedroom Philosopher’s latest album, Songs From the 86 Tram – derived from his award winning Melbourne Comedy Festival show of the same name – is a collection of tunes based on the people you meet on public transport. The current single Northcote (So Hungover) is enjoying strong popularity and the live rendition did not disappoint. In amongst other tracks from this album, a couple of older songs also made an appearance, with a great version of Folkstar and the ever amusing Generation ABC both big crowd pleasers.

A highly entertaining and aurally pleasing night out. The Bedroom Philosopher capably mixes music and comedy in such a way that going to see him perform is worth it every time.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

RAW: Tex Perkins in The Man In Black – Her Majesty’s

When people talk about The Man in Black, everyone knows to whom they refer. In this case however, it’s not just to Johnny Cash but also to Tex Perkins, who provides a wonderful tribute to him in this pleasurable and condensed serving of his life and music. In addition to renditions of many of Cash’s best known hits, such as A Boy Named Sue and Fulsome Prison Blues, it included several duets and some lesser known pieces, interspersed with snippets of personal history.

Perkins is an experienced and charismatic front man and he held the audience’s attention throughout. His vocals were beyond impressive, capturing the essence and emotion of the originals. Filling the role of June Carter in the duets and helping Perkins to tell the story in between songs, Rachael Tidd was likeable and did a pleasing job of her vocals. Supporting the singers were the cheekily named Tennessee Four, who provided skilled musical backing, adding to the fullness of the sound.

There was never a lapse in the popularity of Cash, but the success of the 2005 biopic Walk the Line can perhaps be credited with bringing the music, and the man, back to the forefront of the public consciousness. The audience crossed many demographic boundaries, showing the wide appeal of this show, and reacted with great enthusiasm. As good as the above film was, there’s something about hearing the music played live that really gets the heart soaring and this production certainly did that.

Kryztoff Rating 4K

RAW: Ziggy Diagne – Nexus – 23 July

Unfortunately only a sparse crowd came to Nexus last night to hear Ziggy Diagne and his four piece ensemble play his high energy fusion of African, Salsa and other Latin rhythms. The setting was also not helped by a late start due to Ziggy et al losing their way, drums tumbling over during songs and musicians tripping over cords on stage. However, the second half was worth the wait.

Then Senegalese, Ziggy, (who, in a white jump suit adorned with small flags and with his hair in a bun on the top of his head looked like a cross between Whoopi Goldberg and Buzz Aldrin), got into his stride with brilliant control of his formidable kora that seemed to inject boundless hand energy into his two drummers, Funkalleros and Dunumbra. The interplay between them was spellbinding as the reggae funk, rap and jazz beat grew in intensity, the groovy M’balah rhythms, unique to Senegal, roaring through.

Before moving to WA in 2000, Diagne played and toured internationally for ten years in the Baaba Maal band as a drummer, dancer and choreographer. He has also performed on stage with the likes of Carlos Santana and Youssou N’Dour and has recorded with Assane Thiam (regarded by many as the world’s best talking drum player.)

Before a small, mostly middle aged audience, getting reciprocated energy from the dance floor before him was always going to be a struggle. However, one could imagine a WOMAD crowd going absolutely silly at the height of a performance (with good gunja only adding to the tsunami of energy and power and chills of ecstasy that would ripple through such an audience.)

Ziggy and friends deserved more support than they got last night but it was a richly rewarding experience nonetheless.

Kryztoff Rating  4K

RAW: Mumford & Sons – Thebby 22nd August

Mumford & Son’s have managed to create the perfect balance of folk and rock; pairing banjos and mandolins with heavy drum beats and intense guitar. They opened their Adelaide gig with the first, and title, track of their hugely popular album Sigh No More, which borrows various quotes from the work of Shakespeare to create a beautiful ode to the affect of love.

The majority of their songs interweave such traditional references with original, highly poetic lyrics, accompanied by soaring vocals and impressive instrumental lines. It would be easy for pieces with such subject matter to become clichéd, but in the hands of these lads the final product is rather an uplifting, engaging and genuine celebration, while still touching on the less positive aspects, of the experience.

When a song is as popular as their Triple J Hottest 100 chart topping Little Lion Man, there’s a danger that the crowd will be made up of people who don’t know the majority of the band’s songs. This was quite clearly not an issue, with hundreds of voices singing along to even the album tracks that don’t get much radio air-play.

The crowd was enthusiastic from the get-go, but built to frenzy during the rendition of Winter Winds; the brass section brought on tour ensuring that the live experience matched that produced on the recording. With the final song of the night, The Cave, the whole room was bouncing and the joy in the air was palpable. Happily, the new songs included in the set list left no-one in any doubt that there is much more fantastic music to come from Mumford & Sons. 

Kryztoff Rating 5K

RAW: ABBA World – Melbourne – To End Oct

Elitists may cringe at the thought that such a topic be a major exhibition but given their role in world music in the 1970s and 80s and in various guises since, ABBA makes for a fascinating revisit.

This exhibition in Federation Square, in the old Racehorse Hall of Fame site, covers everything you would want to know and wish to indulge with the Swedish Fab Four (other than perhaps having them over for dinner.) The material from their folk singing days through to the final chapters of their time together is all there – interviews, the recording studios, how they toured, the get-ups etc etc.

Adults and children alike can indulge themselves in remixing, singing and recording their own versions of the hit songs as well as appearing on stage with Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha and Frida and then collect their own DVD of it all to take home at its conclusion. Oh the wonders of modern technology and what it can do for interactivity at exhibitions.

I was surprised to learn what an important role Australia played in their success, adoring the group in the wake of the Eurovision Song Contest triumph with Waterloo when most of Europe was only luke warm. It was this hype from down under (at least allegedly) that reignited interest in the group in the Northern Hemisphere and saw them surge again – another Molly triumph? – I just can’t remember.

But ABBA World also reminds you of what excellent songs Benny and Bjorn produced and how superb the girls were singing them, both vocally and visually. That complexity and competence is often lost in the apparent ease and excess of their performances.

Not cheap at $35 for an adult but one can spend a good two hours wandering the various levels and if all that downloading stuff takes your fancy, then good value abounds. A great visit back in time to timeless popular music but expect to be humming Ring Ring long after you have got home.


RAW: Ben Todd Album Launch of 20TEN at Wheatsheaf

Ben Todd’s album launch at The Wheatsheaf last week underscored what a talented musician this young man is. On a whirlwind trip home from his residency in Japan, touring with Circus de Soleil, Ben’s nine track album, 20TEN, achieves what many drummers don’t; compositions of depth and interest highlighting drum virtuosity without dominating the sound and boring everyone.

Put down in Adelaide’s Chapel Lane studios, Ben utilised the same recording crew, the Ben Todd Band, for his launch night and the playing was remarkably tight and professional. The undeniable talent shone through with Adam Page dominating on saxophone and flute, Dave Innocente working earnestly on guitar with Damien Steele Scott, Steve Todd in the darkness on percussion, Shane Ellery on keyboards and mixer and co-producer Paul White holding things together on the Hammond.

The music itself is groove jazz, the tunes eminently listenable with Ben’s drums always and superbly driving away in the background. The titles of many of pieces, as well as some of the music itself, reflect the influence and benefit of his time away in Japan and the collaboration involved in putting this together across national borders testament to the internet and modern day communications.

That Ben works with superior and older musicians and garners their support augurs well for his band’s future recordings as well as the development of Ben’s own career in the years ahead.

Kryztoff Rating  4K


RAW: Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire! More Than ‘War Cowards’

Another sneak peek from Edition 11…

Kryztoff‘s Jason Vandepeer caught up with Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire! just before they launched their new single, Little Cowboys, Bad Hombres last week outside Jive, down an alleyway. The band told us about their new album Sea Priest, their upcoming national tour and highlights of their career so far. They also shared a few vital survival tips…

See the full article in Kryztoff‘s 11th Edition, out Thursday!

> > > Missed the 10th edition? Head here.


Mahler 8 – Entertainment Centre

One can only marvel at the scale (even if its popularity doesn’t match) of Mahler’s 8th Symphony and the bravery involved in attempting to stage it. Two orchestras, 400 singers, seven soloists all coming from various places around the country and world make for a handful. But under Arvo Volmer’s direction, this monumental show and finale to Paul Grabowsky’s festival was pulled off resoundingly well. It is 32 years since such an ambition was last carried out in Adelaide, then at Centennial Hall at the fifth Adelaide Festival. Much has changed for the city and the festival since then but this music remains a towering piece in symphony lore. The first movement, Veni, Creator Spiritus, is uplifting and magnificent and Russian soprano Marina Shaguch carried the day. The second, Final scene of Goethe’s Faust Pt 111, is somewhat more difficult but the message of love and hope fuses all in the finale.

The use of an upstairs vantage point for the horn signatures and the Mother Mary’s solo was inspired and carried off well. The ability to keep such a large stage contingent up to the beat was a credit to both Volmer and Chorus Director, Carl Crossin.

The disappointment was the amplification used, particularly in the opening 5 – 10 minutes which threatened to ruin it all. After all that money spent on the Entertainment Centre revamp, it is a pity more attention was not paid to resolving these issues and exactly what extra sound boost is required for a stage ensemble of this magnitude (other than for the soloists) is not clear. Mahler’s own first performance had over 3000 in attendance with not a microphone or banks of speakers in sight.

Perhaps as surprising was the spartan use of light and the apparent absence of recording devices to perpetuate the occasion (there is but one recording only of Mahler 8 on i-tunes!) Was this in fact an opportunity missed.

An event for the list of ‘I was there’ and a credit to Volmer and his ASO and badge of honour for the Festival in its 50th year.

Kryztoff Rating     4K


RAW: Le Grand Macabre @ Adelaide Festival Centre

György Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre is a very dark look at a modern, perverse, lost society in terminal decay about to be wiped out by Nekrotzar. It grotesquely, sarcastically takes a mocking, ironic look at mortality and death.  Set on, inside and around a giant female body, complete with tongue movement, which adds to this bizarre opera, sure is a grand opening to this years Adelaide Festival.

The music score just adds to this insane artwork, opening to jarring car horns, yet so fitting, brought with enormous energy and force, conducted exemplary by Robert Houssart. The only critique on the music would be the pit not allowing the true sound of all instruments to carry to the audience.

The set piece, the crouching body, brilliantly built with arms, legs, buttocks which reveal  inner organs and a moving head, is also used as a projection screen for video footage and lighting effects giving 3D a new or should we say true meaning.

The performers pull this 4 scene,  anti-anti-opera, off in a way that makes it all seem real and a perfectly told drama, yet obviously enjoying themselves.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

>> Check out more interviews, videos, feature articles and polished previews in our latest Fringe Guidehttp://www.kryztoff.com/fringe