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Adelaide Fringe Review 2016 – NOIR REVUE




Some Fringe performers bring something new to the table every year and that creative drive is to be applauded and appreciated.


Some Fringe performers take an idea and incubate it, like barrel of finest Kentucky Bourbon, opening it over time to sample the ageing before resealing it again, until the time is right to appreciate the strengths & subtleties.


We first saw Noir Revue in 2011 – this is not the same Noir Revue – it has become an Anthology performance showcase of familiar faces, new characters and regenerated settings. Like our Bourbon, Noir Revue has hit a point of resplendent maturation.

But so much more than this, it is high tide-marking of where the confluence of burlesque, showgirl and vaudeville musical entertainment should be, now that we are so far into the revival of these arts. It is simply not enough to roll out the same old tired routines over the same weary old burlesque numbers. No more by the numbers. We expect more and few are delivering. But that is clearly changing.




Michael Wheatley may sing about Lilac Wine in one of many jazz laden sung-soliloquies, but the man’s tonsils are like a Sazerac – earthy rye whisky of the everyman, absinthe wash for desire, Peychaud Bitters for loss and remorse, lemon peel for the sour sting of hard luck, but a spoonful of sugar to make the telling sweet. Leading up his band of accomplished musicians, The Shantones, and supported by double-entendre laden gumshoe detective cinematography in the dives of New Orleans, this creates a unique audio-visual soundtrack to cradle the kinetic stage performances.


Missy & Paloma Negra have revisited their famous chair tango – but there is a razor sharpness, a bloodless surgical precision that slowly melts to a softer sensuality that makes it a fresh offering. The audience didn’t know when to exhale in my opinion. I can only imagine that IKEA must have developed the sturdy Pällämma-Mîsjii chair to support the strains of gymnastic pressure they bring to bear on their props.


When performing separately the pace by no means lessens. Missy exercises anatomical near-impossibilities on the vertical pole – verily they are isometric feats of astonishment. Paloma Negra skilfully blends elements of Eastern & Western performance dance – a dynamic tension of Noh & Ballet technique such that no muscle of her being, from finger tip to toe, is exempt from weaving a signature tapestry of movement.


Sarina del Fuego can lay down powerful showgirl moves in the right setting – but much more noteworthy in my opinion is her ability to deliver a very slow & deliberate tease – letting the slow pizzicato of a double bass line dictate the pace and extent of her unveiling. Hanging anticipation is among the hardest skill for new generations of showgirls & burlesque dancers from my observation. Contrary to expectations, we should never be in a rush to form a memory of (popped) pastied mammaries. Sarina del Fuego is an embodiment of a confident solicitous sensuality.


Last but not least, Lola La Belle, delivers a routine of transmogrification. Shape shifting, she commences manifestation within a white swan like gown, tracing arches and eddies with her wings, before casting them aside to drift and scintillate in rapturous diaphanous adornment.


Noir Revue is a feast for the senses, and a truly a soothing balm to counter the weariness over the habitual burlesque fare of recent years. Playing until Thursday 18th February, get your tickets here.



Posted by Jonathan on Feb 14th 2016 | Filed in Burlesque,Cabaret,Culture,Music,Reviews | Comments (0)

Adelaide Fringe Picks for 2016


Carnivale was the best damn thing to happen to television at the turn of this century and its cancellation will remain a crime forever more.  Fortunately my sorrows are annually ameliorated with the influx of performers, magicians, vagabonds, burlesque queens and musicians into dear (R)Adelaide for the Fringe Festival, dragging their creative accoutrements, stories and daring-do across the many miles.  They may not have gypsy wagons but flying in on Tiger Air is equally fraught with difficulty and an act of endurance demanding respect.

A number of familiar faces return this year – some are re-imagined offerings, some a bold new solo adventures for seasoned troupe performers. Here is my pick for Adelaide Fringe 2016. IT ALL STARTS NEXT WEEK SO GET YOUR TICKETS!


A Fringe cabaret/burlesque favourite, a new line up albeit still under the steady hand of Sarina de Fuego – including musical director and co-producer Michael Wheatley who’s performance prowess has taken this production to another level.


If you have a child under 7 years of age – chances are they are familiar with  Hoopla Doopla! and may already be on the fast track to running away to join the circus.  Jango, aka Daniel Gorski, brings out one his darker split personalities in the Vaude-villainous Mr Gorski in this child friendly production with magic, juggling and chaos.



A good show case of the burly arts from a line up of local talent making the transition from enthusiastic amateur to national-starlet-in-the-making. Who will be the big names in Australian burlesque in the future?…get the good oil here.




Mistress of the acrobatic aerial arts brings her solo show to Adelaide for the first time, as she explores the theme of her favourite caffeine marking time throughout life’s travails.




We knew her best from Peaches & Gin Burlesque, but now Luna Eclipse has found a new voice as she comes to terms with growing older, responsibility, and whether she can continue justify living life like one of Neverland Lost Children. I think we know the answer but best go along just in case….




Ex-Blues and Burlesque star, Scarlett Belle, is another throwing caution to the wind and embarking on a solo tour, bringing a show of songs, stories & erotica that promises love, lust & adultery – something for everyone, including the grandparents.



We reviewed Becky Lou’s standout tragi-comedy-burlesque performance last year in a charming ramshackle possibly near condemned building acting as a performance space. There was nothing ramshackle about her performance however, so imagine how great she is going to be on a larger stage with no risk of floor collapse! If you didn’t see this last year, don’t be the last person at your local front bar to be able to talk about the virtues of merkin puppets.


Posted by Jonathan on Feb 6th 2016 | Filed in Art,Burlesque,Cabaret,Culture,Music | Comments (0)

Adelaide Festival 2015- Unsound – Forest Swords, ATOM + Robin Fox, The Bug, Shackleton


Returning to the South Australian Freemason’s Grand Lodge for night two of Unsound Adelaide the anticipation was building for a night possibly grander the previous evening.


The throbbing live bass guitar of Forest Swords grinding over thick dub beats drew us into the main hall – a welcome sight to see some traditional instrumentation mixed with desk artisty. It certainly wasn’t all dub odyssey, with Matthew Barnes touching on Portisheadish trip hop beats, explorations into distinctly bluesy phrasing and somewhat Spaghetti Western guitar moments that gave me pleasant Ennio Morricone chills.


It is very difficult to describe what happened next when immersed into the RGB world of ATOM ™ & Robin Fox. Full body scans of laser light with visceral sounds that boil blood in a surreal sensory tennis match with Uwe Schmidt’s Germanic precision electro dance sounds and video projections. His luminous head projected above us – a demigod of the matrix reassuring us that the following treatment will be painless and liberating. Sensory overload was balanced with ambience of deep grey noise and indistinct swirling visuals – a respite for our synapses. You can’t dance to architecture and it is equally hard to give words to this performance that would be subjected to injustice if described simply as a sound & light show.


The Bug (Kevin Martin) proved to be a major crowd pleaser – bathed in haematological light, underpinned by siren driven loops, he delivered subterranean dub beats weaving below high frequency drone. He would also move effortlessly between open ended electronica and the framework of traditional song structures, working dynamic arches and minimalism as a counterpoint to his heavy artillery dancehall beats. Intermixed with eviscerating hip hop from Manga and a toasty Miss Red – the audience were in it penny for a pound. This did raise some interesting questions and discussion with my concert going companion about the propensity for Australian audiences to self-identify with music touching on themes of class struggle, in what is arguably a much more egalitarian society.


Lastly (Sam) Shackleton took us back into realms that one would be mistaken as thinking of as traditional techno sounds, although such an error could be made if one were not paying attention. Clever xylophonic arpeggiated sounds overlays old school beats, but builds in Tubular Bells fashion with simultaneously stripping back older layers. It was nothing short of painting through music. And throughout this thoroughly danceable symphony were very distinct melodies, sometimes like a folk tune, differentiating this electronic musical craftsmanship from the less adept IDM-meisters.


Will Unsound return next year under David Seftons extended tenure as Director of the Adelaide Festival, or have we experienced something quite special and unique over the past three years? There is no doubt Australia’s appetite has grown year on year – and it would be a shame for the momentum to stop now.

Posted by Jonathan on Mar 18th 2015 | Filed in Events,Music,News,People,Reviews | Comments (0)

Adelaide Festival 2015 – Unsound – Lawrence English, Gazelle Twin, Container, Fushitsuha


Unsound Adelaide, the Festival within the Adelaide Festival, has taken up new digs in 2015. Moving away from the rustic Queens Theatre to the late century grandeur of the Freemasons Grand Lodge on North Terrace within the main hall, reflecting an age of Victoriana: grand stage, large bay windows and plasterwork. We have substituted the industrial for the majestic.


First on stage was Queensland musician Lawrence English, a prolific sonic artist of over decade, bathed in Masonic-blue light while manipulating noise scapes containing very distinct melodic arches that reminded me of more 1970’s era analogue experimental tonality. Breath & voice manipulation featured as a keystone locking it together – Mr English seemingly having an organic connection or interface to his hardware. The music developed into a transplutonic organ fugue, reverential but otherworldly with a certain windswept ambience.


This was starkly contrasted by Gazelle Twin, nom-de-plume of British producer Elizabeth Bernholz who prowled the stage microphone in hand, in her trademark blue hoodie while an assistant provided the suitable music triggers and beat manipulation. This performance was unlike anything I expected – blurred industrial beats, precision rhythmic attacks countered with soaring ethereal vocals, and whispered hip-hopish recitations. It was one of the very few times I believe I have seen a vocoder used effectively as a instrument rather than a crutch, and it was like she was in a violent battle to keep it in control rather than succumb to any assimilation. Taught, palpable tension filled the room as she had the audience moving like a machine. Probably the stand out performance of Unsound and a privilege to witness.



Ren Schofield aka Container unfurled a series of more familiar dark beats and loops with distinct avant-garde elements just to keep any feeling of comfort at bay. While providing what seemed initially seductive electro dance rhythms, he would continue to cleverly switch beats with syncopation and complexity in a manner much like Cut Hands did last year. That delightful moment when people dancing deeply in a particular groove suddenly need to readjust their frame of reference and body motion. Some more successfully than others!


Lastly was Japanoise / Space Rock Godfather Keijo Haino with his most recent line up of Fushitsusha. Or at least there nearly wasn’t. Five minutes after walking on stage he walked off again. I don’t know what the problem was, but clearly it made the audience less tolerant & forgiving. When he returned and unleased his particular brand of noise exploration and inprovisation – over what must be said was a very tight bass and drum section holding everything together like gripping but yielding gaffer tape – I think certain minds had closed to what he had to offer. Which is unfortunate.


As someone said to me on the night – sometimes art is difficult.

Posted by Jonathan on Mar 15th 2015 | Filed in Art,Culture,Music,People,Reviews | Comments (0)

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