Month: July 2014

The Book of Days

From July 10th until August 9th, the New Theatre presents Lanford Wilson’s “The Book Of Days”. The play is just as complex, engaging and entertaining as to be expected from this Pulitzer Prize winning playwright. Not only does the New Theatre respect the play and it’s themes, its goes beyond to create emotionally intricate characters and production-wise, this performance was excellent, all aspects considered.

This fast-paced play is quick witted, even linguistically poetic, revealing character, and plot twists. It’s a dialogue heavy play, often using monologues to drive the plot and character complexities. Commendations to the cast for embodying their characters, giving passionately convincing performances and for delivering the rich dialogue flawlessly.

The plot follows a small town in Missouri in the aftermath of a violent tornado and the death of a prominent town figure. In a Dylan Thomas-esque approach, we see all the lives of the townsfolk entwine as we become privy to their secrets and relations. The release of information is perfect and the production team have done justice to the rise and fall of tension, I was glued the whole time. I feel that this play can often be geared to focus on the protagonist, Ruth Hoch (played by Kate Fraser) and her crusading allusions to Bernard Shaw’s “St Joan”. However, this particular performance gave equal weighting to all the townsfolk and this, in my opinion, gave the play a richer, deeper complexity.

The play is a social comment, a magnification on human corruption and interactions and as expected, the ending is, on the whole unsatisfactory. I left the theatre irritated by the outcome. This is a true testament to the cast and production team because over the course of the play, I became emotionally invested in the characters due to the stellar performances from the cast.

The use of space was seamless and economical. Having all cast members kept on stage made the play dynamic and their interactions with the set and props was effective, even innovative, (stage interaction possibly reminiscent of the Sydney Theatre Company’s recent season of “The Secret River”). The lighting was evocative of atmosphere and on the whole, this performance was entertaining, accessible and I thoroughly enjoyed the night.

Image credit: http://www.au.timeout.com/sydney/theatre/events/39697/book-of-days

image

Advertisements

King Of The North – “Sound The Underground” album review

Image credit: http://www.kingofthenorth.com.au/sound-the-underground-on-vinyl-pre-order-your-copy-now/

King Of The North has such a massive sound. When I listened to them, I thought there was a full band, couple of guitars, a bass and drums. Alas, this is not the case. King Of The North is a band consisting of two members; Andrew Higgs on Guitar and Vocals, and Danny Leo on Drums and Backing Vocals. The fact that this band only has two members really blew me away- their sound is larger than life, their tracks are so well rounded and they’re really solid pieces of music. Their energy comes through the album, brings the rock to life. This is the kind of music you’d want cranked up to maximum volume as you blast up an old highway.

In fact, with music this quality, I think any more band members, or instruments would ruin the whole unit. It’s an excellent collaboration of well-balanced melody and percussion.

Their album Sound the Underground showcases tracks that aren’t too different from each other. This, however, isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Rather, it earmarks this band as having an established, stable, strong earthen sound. It’s a real, old-school, hard core sort of sound. Changes in tempo really string out the rhythm and effect the listener in a head-bangin’ kind of way. It’s either upbeat and fast-paced like the album’s opening tune “It’s Been Too Long”, or it stretches out a slower beat, a stressed rock in “Paradise”. The music has to be listened to, to be fully felt, fully understood.

“Surrender” is an excellent example of fantastic guitar work and percussion in a balance, while the vocals just render it classic rock. On the other hand “Take it or Leave it” shows explosive drum skills and fantastic control. I think these guys would be phenomenal live. The track, “Ruby” really exhibits strength in vocals and guitar dynamics. A solid sound to feel all the way to your bones.

These guys have mastered the classic rock genre. They’re fresh-faces on an old scene and their innovative collaboration to create a full-band sound really sets a high-bar to any other band emerging on the Australian rock scene. They’re meaty, metallic and full of punch. 

EMPRA’s self-titled album EMPRA

Following the release of EMPRA’s self-titled album, the band EMPRA are touring Melbourne and Adelaide from July through until August 16th. This band is on the up- one of Australia’s leading high energy rock bands. Having toured with Fall Out Boy, The Living End, John Butler Trio, Spiderbait, British India and more, EMPRA have managed to give themselves a name on the international stage. After countless nominations and winning prestigious awards, like Livenation International Band Competition, as well as extensive media coverage via TV, radio and print across the globe, I decided to check them out for myself.

EMPRA’s album is rather impressive. It captures the essence of the band, it establishes their sound and their identity, but it also showcases their variety and depth. They traverse emotional atmospheres, both lyrically and mood-wise. For instance, their album tracks from classic rock, whips up a little punk, then slips into a slow ballad. Some of the time, I saw myself watching a 1990’s American High School flick and at other times, I found myself bangin’ my head to its raw grit, catchy beats and excellent guitar and percussion collaboration. This album shows flexibility, while retaining a unique identity.

“I Won’t Give Up” is an upbeat, fast-paced song that opens the album. It doesn’t necessarily set the mood for the album, but it is a good reflection of the sound of the band itself. Later, “I Won’t Give Up” is taken from a recording Live at Revolver, which shows off the strong vocals and electric energy, which just sparks off this band.

In stark contrast, “Strange Condition” is my preferred track. It’s well balanced, catchy, and it’s a slower kind of rock. It’s no surprise that this track has already been shortlisted as a finalist for the Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition. I like the leads and their harmonies. With catchy melodies, the tune begins with a folky air, a bit like Ball Park Music, but then there’s a build-up taking us to the chorus. This track changes up the atmosphere of the album and it’s a professional, feel good sound.

“Doesn’t Make Much Sense” displays EMPRA’s excellent guitar work and collaboration as a whole unit. The guitar skills transfer over to “Sabrina” which features acoustic guitar, ending the album on a nostalgic tone.

EMPRA has rocked the Australian music scene, making waves internationally. If their debut album and tour experience is anything to go by, keep an eye out for them and any future work they do. They’re a great sound- versatile, and both raw grit and polished synthesis at the same time.

 Image courtesy of http://www.empraonline.com/release/empra-self-titled/