An Evening of Tom Waits Songs

Sunday night at the Gov saw a gruff-voiced, Betty Grable shirt-wearing Stewart D’Arrietta pay homage to Tom Waits in a two and a half hour show aptly titled ‘Belly of a Drunken Piano’. In true Waits style, the singer slurred his way through stories with punch lines in between piano-playing ballads like ‘Kentucky Avenue’, a song about a neighbourhood full of people up to no good but really they’re just people.

I find it amazing that a song with lyrics like Eddie Grace’s Buick got four bullet holes in the side / And Charlie Delisle sittin’ at the top of an avocado tree / Mrs. Stormll stab you with a steak knife if you step on her lawn / I got a half pack of Lucky Strikes, man, so come along with me can be so full of beauty and nostalgia, but that’s what Waits does. He’s the crooner of the red light district, the poet laureate of drunkards and freaks, and D’Arrietta got everything right. Half-way through the show it occurred to me that one of the greatest miseries of my life is not having seen Tom Waits live, which I think is a testament to D’Arrietta. He played the part and sang the songs so sincerely and with such profound sentiment that he had me in a state of longing. Does that normally happen at Fringe?

SA Music Hall of Fame inductee Rob Pippan on guitar, Shaun Duncan on the double bass and Matt McNamee on the drums gave D’Arrietta and his keyboard centre stage and became that smoke-hazed lounge room backdrop of a band this type of performance demands, subtly seen though indispensible when you’re grooving along in your seat to ‘Romeo is Bleeding’ or having a shake in a dark corner to ‘Way Down in the Hole’. Other highlights were ‘The Piano Has Been Drinking’, ‘Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis’, ‘Martha (Closing Time)’, ‘The Heart of Saturday Night’ and ‘Tom Traubert’s Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen)’, which is that heartbreaking song that has the ‘Waltzing Matilda’ refrain throughout, perfect for an encore.

Call-outs to Bruce Springsteen and Charles Bukowski didn’t go unnoticed, and I think Waits would’ve liked them. Perhaps, too, D’Arrietta’s few originals. I thought one had a slightly Elton John-caught-up-in-Waits feel to it, interesting enough for me to search up more of his originals when I got home. For the record, Stewart D’Arrietta’s good when he’s doing Stewart D’Arrietta, too. And apparently he’s very good as Leonard Cohen, which was another show he did as part of the Fringe, and quite the busy man this past month, he also accompanied Australian actor and musician John Waters in the Fringe’s ‘Lennon – Through A Glass Onion’. I considered both of those shows when I first got out the Fringe guide and a felt-tipped pen but I couldn’t go past Tom Waits, my absolute favourite, but even if I hadn’t have been familiar with Waits, I still would’ve loved the show – the whole atmosphere was infected with a gritty kind of class – and I no doubt would’ve left a fan.

5 / 5 stars


Words by Heather Taylor Johnson

An Evening of Tom Waits Songs season has ended

To find out more please visit this website

George Glass Proves the Existence of God

George Glass Proves the Existence of God successfully scratches the itches to life’s biggest questions. Is there a God? Can God hangout later? What’s God’s biggest weakness? Will the Hungry Caterpillar show up? Is there anyone working on an Eyes Wide Shut musical?

Adelaide’s own George Glass brings musicality, absurdity, and plenty of blood in this exceptional one night only performance. Kicking everything off the band (Nic Conway, Pud Hamilton, Chris Nenov, Alister McMichael, and Ruby Gazzola) appropriately introduces themselves in an extremely religious fashion. The Garden of Eden. Eve is a man with balloon breasts of biblical proportions, Adam is a woman in a muscle suit, the forbidden fruit is, of course, an inflatable red costume with matching face paint, and the snake (a morph-suit) slithers its way on stage.

With an intro like that, you know that what you’re about to see is no Sunday service.

George Glass Proves the Existence of God is full of running bits that never grow old. There’s a cleverly instigated checklist at the beginning of the show that provides topics or thematic elements (e.g. baby, cake, pussy cat, tie him up and throw him in the River Torrens), a drummer with a small bladder, and a literal hotline to God. The back and forth tongue and cheek between the band is seamless and never fails to get a laugh, together inhabiting the stage as if it were their home.

George Glass is foremost a rock-comedy showcase. Boasting an array of original songs (that you can listen to yourself on Spotify right now) that are catchy, full of energy, and of course humour. Particular songs such as Detective Andrews, God Is Dead, Christ Likes to Eat Pussy, and Secret Song are the highlights and bring to mind the works of Jack Black and Kyle Glass from Tenacious D. Cohesively the band are multi-talented, switching between instruments throughout the show as each member has their moment centre-stage. However, the first two songs were a little hard to decipher. Whether it be some slightly muddled vocals or technical difficulty, the lyrics weren’t entirely comprehensible, but the band soon found their footing and from there on out it was crystal clear.

George Glass also effortlessly involves the audience in their religious escapades. Members are utilised to form Caterpillars (of the hungry variety), dispose of very incriminating evidence, and to create a crowd surf that more or less turns into a polite yet wholesome carry.

If George Glass Proves the Existence of God resurrects itself for another performance in the future, make sure you see it.

4 1/2 stars


Words by Isaac Freeman

George Glass Proves the Existence of God‘s season has now concluded

For more information about George Glass visit his website

Just Desserts

Opening night for Just Desserts had a bit of an abnormal hiccup. With an ambiguous location (The Park, Gluttony) and unfortunately some misdirection from Information staff, I found myself among perhaps thirty other show goers at a loss for where the show would actually be. Among fans of Michelle Pearson’s previous work, I heard stories about just how much they enjoyed last year’s Main Course and why they came back to witness her work once again. Thankfully, we were all able to make it to the show (which started late because of this hiccup) and enjoy the talents of Pearson, the band, and the night’s cooks.

With a comparatively high ticket-price, Pearson’s show is well worth the admission. She and the band work well together to present quite a neat cabaret about cooking, revenge, and the realities of being a new mum. While most of her songs are covers or simply altered covers, some like ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ have been altered to have just a touch more political commentary about our revered role models: Trump, ScoMo, and Ms. Pauline Hanson.

What makes this show unique is that, as the title suggests, it is Just Desserts. Throughout the show Pearson serves up three desserts to the audience including a toffee and apple lollipop, a chocolate truffle, and a nipple-cupcake. With a small amount of audience participation (one male individual selected at random) this is the kind of cabaret you could bring your mum to.

It is incredibly impressive of Pearson to be performing after giving birth just six weeks previous and some of her show is devoted to speaking to that experience. Pearson, like any new mum, wanted it all: to have the healthiest, smartest, and best-sleeping baby around, and to be able to perfectly manage working and motherhood together. Of course, no one can be the perfect mother and just like everyone else Pearson does her best to be the best mother possible.

As much as I would love to give this show a higher rating because of the amazing band and the incredible vocal talents of Pearson, I have to acknowledge the lack of narrative cohesion and the unrealised potential of the show given they could go so much further with the Just Desserts theme. Of course, as it is, it is well worth a visit.

4 / 5 stars


Words by Kayla Gaskell

Just Desserts is playing at Gluttony until March 14

For more information and to book tickets click here

Please note for anyone confused by the show’s location, that it is at the very back of Gluttony near the food trucks

Eddie Ray – Leader of the Resistance

Do you love The Terminator?  Well this show is perfect for you! Even if your heart doesn’t miss a beat when you think of the time-travelling cyborg, this is still the show for you. A comedy cabaret – Leader of the Resistance is the strange mix of social commentary and silliness that you don’t even realise you’re missing.

Eddie Ray’s preview performance Wednesday night was so much more than I expected. From the first minute he had his audience hooked and hanging onto his every word in spite of the sometimes semi-deranged look in his eye when he talks about being that guy, you know the one, the one who’s crazy enough not to have a mobile phone.

Starting off with an anecdote about childhood and a much simpler time, the show progresses, exploring the growing disconnect irl. We, the collective, are obsessed with our smart-phones; they rule our day-to-day lives and give us an excuse to ignore those around us. It’s no longer appropriate to say “hi” to the person next to you when you’re waiting for a bus and even a polite “is this seat taken?” is often ignored in favour of the screens in our hands.

Eddie gets into just what this show is about with the transformation of his character from that guy without a phone into that guy with a phone – highlighting the reliance many people have on this technology today. Think talking in hashtags, targeted advertising (knowing what you want before you do), and the plain and simple degradation of language.

While the Terminator references certainly make it fun and appealing, it isn’t just this show’s inter-textuality that makes it brilliant. Together with social commentary and the whims of a talented musician, Eddie builds his music with his voice, his guitar, and a loop station. While Eddie proclaimed his show was silliness about a serious topic, this is a showcase of skill and the fun you can have when an idea catches hold and you’re free to play and create.

Having held his audience captive for nearly the entire performance, I’d highly recommend seeing this comedy cabaret during its short run time.

4.5 / 5 stars


Words by Kayla Gaskell

Eddie Ray Leader of the Resistance is playing at The Mill’s The Breakout until March 7
For more information and tickets click here

The Clashing Pumpkins

The Clash and The Smashing Pumpkins might seem like an odd double-bill. But it makes sense. The Clash where the ever-evolving British punk rockers of the late 70s to mid-80s and The Smashing Pumpkins were heavy-hitters in the 90s alternative grunge scene but constantly diverged into different rock sub-genres. The two never pigeonholed their sound, a potential factor as to why they remain staples of the periods that defined them.

The Clashing Pumpkins is a worthy ode to these iconic periods in music.

“The Clash”

Local punk outfit Young Offenders kicked the night off. The band consisting of Kyle Landman on vocals, Anthony Kantern on bass, and Leigh Shags on drums (with the addition of Nick Nancarrow from OKO on guitar and Tom Morris from Angels of Gung-Ho on keyboard/synth) dished out one hit after the other. Successfully spanning The Clash‘s discography from their self-titled debut to 1982’s Combat Rock, Young Offenders knew exactly what the crowd wanted.

True standouts from the night where London Calling, Rock the Casbah, Should I Stay or Should I Go, I Fought the Law, Bank Robber, and Safe European Home (prefacing it by saying “this one is about Brexit). Young Offenders had a great punk sensibility with plenty of cheekiness and banter between songs, successfully winning over the older crowd with their passionate intensity. Landman, having an English background himself, has to be praised for his excellent vocal substitute for Joe Strummer’s own. Kantern, Shags, Nancarrow, and Morris worked with great precision in covering the diverse range of instrumentals found across The Clash‘s discography.

Their set was short, fast, loud and succinct like any great punk record.

“The Smashing Pumpkins”

Tork jumped on stage shortly after to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Smashing Pumpkins seminal double-album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Another local Adelaide band (but fitting into the indie/grunge genre) comprised of Josh and Michael Morphett, Sam Rogerson, and additional keyboards/synth and guitar from Tom Morris and Jack Cunningham (also a member of Angels of Gung-Ho). Josh Morphett accurately mimics the distinct vocal afflictions of Billy Corgan, proving himself more than capable of handling Corgan’s lyrics. Morris, (or as Josh calls him “The Chicago Symphony Orchestra”) provides a brilliant substitute for Mellon Collie’s more orchestral/ classical sounds. Michael, Rogerson, and Cunningham pound the crowd with grunge-like intensity and further showcase their musical abilities in the quieter and more refined moments.

All the standouts tracks are played (Where Boys Fear to Tread, Tonight, Tonight, 1979, and the ultimate crowd-pleasers: Zero, and Bullet with Butterfly Wings) in addition to deeper cuts, and Siamese Dream’s hits, Today, and Disarm. In addition to these moments, Tork also played Fleetwood Mac‘s Landslide (covered by The Smashing Pumpkins in 2018). While Tork certainly delivers, the more contemplative moments (while technically brilliant) create a slight lull between the anthems. The bands cover of Landslide was great but didn’t feel all that necessary.

Their set was sprawling, raw, and moody much like any great grunge album.

 

4 1/2 stars


Words and photography by Isaac Freeman

The Clashing Pumpkins season has now ended

Circolombia: Acelere

Forget conventionally mundane circuses with animal acts, cheesy showmanship and striped leotards. The stylings of Circolombia and their show ACELERE are all you need!

Hailing from Colombia, these group of artists bring many a jaw-dropping spectacle to the stage along with a refreshing injection of richly energetic culture. South-American musicality is on full display through the group’s exceptional vocalists and their collectively raw and kinetic style of dance. No matter the backing track (whether it be eerily atmospheric or full of Colombian flavour) ACELERE has a great balance and sense of unison with its sound and visuals. With the aforementioned vocal and dance performances serving as interludes or introductions to the next act, they work well to build audience anticipation.

Now, on to what everyone hopes for when seeing a circus act. Outstanding acrobatics and stunts. ACELERE manages to deliver these desires in droves. You may see limited potential in what can be achieved with a beam, a plank, wires, or large rings but Circolombia certainly doesn’t. Their approach to each of these obstacles/tools is so out of the box and inventively creative. Their rope and wire work is hypnotising as a result of their ability to use whatever they hold an extension of themselves.

Without a doubt, you’ll be sucked into sudden trances of movement before being slapped across the face with yet another dramatic manoeuvre. A large seesaw style plank serves as fuel on the fire for the performers to escalate their antics and constantly one-up each other. The giant ring is also a daring art for the performance, proving the strength, agility, and balance of the artists ten-fold.

ACELERE even manages to work its set up in a new way. Rather than just setting up mats or apparatuses in the background, they are interacted with as the performers find their place on stage. Circolombia flip, slide and vault around them as they seamlessly begin to transition into the conquering of their next stunt.

It’s unconventional, passionate, and successfully brings new life into the circus.

4 / 5 stars


Words and photography by Isaac Freeman

Circolumbia: Acelere is on until March 15

For more information and to book tickets, click here

Right Here, Right Now

Incredibly talented and immensely creative, Josh Belperio is someone I’m privilaged to have seen perform. Despite this show being raw and a little unpolished that only serves to highlight his creativity and ability to improvise on stage.

Having attended Belperio’s show 30,000 Notes last year, I was keen to find out more about this introspective individual. Having produced such an emotive show, I was keen to see one of his more comical shows with Scarred for Life. Instead, shortly before the launch of Fringe, I discovered that Belperio was taking a different route again, turning away from his previous two introspective shows to produce something a little more off-beat. Something to showcase his anger at everything that has occurred across our recent and quite devastating summer. This made me even more intrigued to know what Belperio has been up to and just what kind of show he would produce.

Going to Holden Street Theatres in the evening just after the sun has set is quite a special experience, one I aim to have at least once throughout the Fringe season. With a number of shows on simultaneously, there’s always a vibe of quite anticipation waiting.

We were led into a room much smaller than I’d expected where we found Belperio waiting beside a keyboard with the calm enthusiasm of an experienced performer. Since the previous year where he was presenting his notes and those left behind by his beloved Nonna, Belperio’s character had undergone a transformation. The clean-cut man of yesteryear replaced by someone clear in his rebellion.

Belperio started the show discussing the recent bush-fire crisis in song, moving on to his criticism of PM Scott Morrison (which is available to watch online here), and discussing the link between the bush-fire crisis and how LGBTQIA+ rights have been challenged by the religious discrimination bill.

The show itself was engrossing, breath-taking, even awe-inspiring. Belperio had homed in on his anger in the last few months, distilling it into something resembling cabaret but also a little more. Raw and, in places, improvised, this performance was both authentic and compelling .

While certainly presenting a relevant show, Belperio opens the discussion with his audience about the current political climate and the issues with media scapegoating the LGBTQIA+ community as a way to avoid climate action. It should be a time for us to come together to work on a solution; however, Morrison seems set on creating further division at a time when time is running out.

Drawing in new information to the discussion daily, Belperio’s improvisation for this show is impressive. Part cabaret, part honest discussion, this is a show you need to see to fully grasp. I would highly recommend seeing Belperio perform. He is such a talented person and I look forward to watching his career progress.

5 / 5 stars


 

Words by Kayla Gaskell

Right Here, Right Now is playing at Holden Street Theatres until February 28

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here

A J Holmes: Yeah, But Not Right Now

The 10pm slot in Gluttony means that the crowd is varied in the demographic and levels of sobriety. The cosy tent was filled with laughter, singing, and playful banter with the crowd throughout the show.

Previously featured on Broadway in the hit show The Book of Mormon, AJ Holmes serenades the audience with his angelic voice, enthusiastic piano playing, a guitar, and a loop pedal.

Gloriously reminiscent of high-school musical theatre, Yeah, But Not Right Now has it all: awkwardness, validation tension, and overconfidence galore. Sit back while Holmes sings you stories about horrible things with a smile on his face, or joyful things in a sulk. This one man show conveys the highs and lows of showbiz, dating apps, and just being in your 20s.

AJ Holmes opens up about his grandma, his life on Broadway, his Facebook-posting mother, and his revelations along the way. I found myself laughing with sympathy, awkwardness, and sentimentality in this unique show.

Uncomfortably intimate at times, the show spans an hour of deep, and not so deep, soul gazing at AJ’s life: a kaleidoscope of joy, love, epiphanies, eroticism, and a riot of laughs. Aimed at an audience in their 20s and above, I found myself relating to every word with a knowing chuckle.

A musical born out of procrastination, this show is for any procrastinator, Casanova, wanna-be-actor or chronic over sleeper.

I give this show a four out of five stars, because I haven’t seen anything that left me grinning throughout and with an echo of that laughter pinching my cheeks hours later.

 


Words by Sarah Ingham

Yeah, But Not Right Now is playing at Gluttony until March 15

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here

Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster

It may be somewhat difficult to comprehend what can come of the words ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘beatboxing’.

Is there someone dressed like Frankenstein beatboxing? Is it just beatboxing with the word ‘Frankenstein’ thrown in? If you assumed either of those you’re be dead wrong.

In reality, what you get is an 80-minute musical spectacle from six diversely skilled and exceptionally talented performers. If beatboxing ensembles where superheroes these guys and girls would be the Avengers.

London’s very own BAC Beatbox Academy brings it’s ‘On Tour’ group to the Adelaide Fringe for Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster. Showcasing a multi-talented crew consisting of young rappers, beatboxers, and vocalists, this is a show which has to be heard to be believed.

Their approach to Mary Shelley’s original is incredibly unique, breaking down the content to three playful, entertaining, and quite socially relevant chapters. They deal with what exactly makes a monster in the modern age and how current behaviours and activities impact today’s youth. Dealing with themes of social media, body image, and mental health the show gives plenty of food for thought.

That alone is not all that Frankenstein has on offer; in addition to their narrative, they take plenty of time to interact and engage with the audience. You may find yourself part of a literal human drum machine at the hands of the group’s director, Conrad Murray (who really knows how to work a crowd). You’ll also witness plenty of tongue in cheek banter, improvisation, and short but sweet beatbox renditions of well-known songs such as Prodigy’s “Firestarter” and Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack”. While the ending of the show won’t be spoiled, it is certainly a fun and heavily entertaining conclusion that guarantees no two shows will be the same.

One aspect of Frankenstein that needs to be commended is its ability to balance tone. The group can have you chuckling with glee one minute and deeply contemplative the next, a true feat in itself.

You will be scratching your head in utter bewilderment throughout as you think “how exactly are they doing that with their voices?”. You may think there is a backing track, you may think there is a DJ somewhere backstage, but there is not, they are just that damn talented.

Without a doubt, this show is a must-see for any Fringe goer in 2020.

 

5 stars


Words and photography by Isaac Freeman

Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster is playing at RCC until March 15

For more information and to book tickets, click here

Songbirds

No doubt the Barossa is a prime spot for scenic views, fine wine and gourmet food – tourists from all over Australia and the world visit for just that reason – and us South Australians are proud of it, rightfully so. Adding the Fringe into the mix not only colours the area and makes it more vibrant for us all, but the locals come out in a display of support and it’s something city-folk need to see. The Barossa isn’t all about commerce; it doesn’t have to be so high-end. The Barossa is about community and its art, and Songbirds proved it.

Last night, in a massive shed of a primary school gymnasium in Tanunda, five singer / songwriters from the Barossa got together to celebrate the women who came before them. Promising something rustic and refined, something authentically local, the venue was decorated with flowing white curtains above a stage full of instruments (mostly acoustic guitars) and white candles enclosed in twigs and gum leaves centred on long, shared tables. There was a collective feeling in the air of laid-back class. After Sue Baker, Victoria Blechynden, Cara Boehm, Cloudy Davey, and Megan Isaacson performed their first song, which they sang as a group, the women took off their shoes and got comfortable. They joked with one another and with their audience, and then got down to story-telling.

Storytelling can take many forms, and the packed house of 250 people heard two: an introduction to what the notable singer and their songs meant to each artist, and the songs themselves. Supported by an all-male band playing guitars, double bass, drums, sax, dobro and mandolin (with the ever-versatile Jamie Blechynden playing most of them) the women covered the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Ricky Lee Jones, Eva Cassidy, Joni Mitchell and many beloved, iconic more, proving they weren’t one-trick ponies by switching and swapping instruments throughout the night. Sometimes folk, sometimes soul, sometimes political, sometimes feel-good, the women were always professional, which is a big call for a Fringe show as the concept behind the festival can mean productions might be very grass-roots with a high hit-or-miss rate. But these women are serious artists, and the audience got just what they came for (the wine, platters and desserts cost extra and were also worth the price, surprisingly modest at that). The individual personalities came out not only in how each woman communicated their passion for music, their chosen musicians and the women they shared the stage with, but also in their original songs, because what would a night of singer / songwriters be without originals? And with those originals a theme emerged within the group: finding yourself then letting yourself go.

As our emcee told us, Tanunda means ‘many water birds’ making Songbirds a perfect coming-together.

4.5/ 5 stars


Words by Heather Taylor Johnson

This was a one-off event for the Barossa Fringe but you can view it live-streamed here:  https://www.facebook.com/Songbirds2020/