Monday, June 23, 2014



The New Score

Festival Theatre. Adelaide Festival Centre. June 21 2014

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Tamil Rogeon and Ryan Ritchie - THE RAAH PROJECT

Tousle-haired Ryan Ritchie of internationally acclaimed THE RAAH PROJECT still can’t believe that he has pulled off the grand finale of the 2014 Adelaide Cabaret Festival. With a little help from his friends that is: collaborator, Tamil Rogeon, stellar backing vocalists iOTA, Kylie Auldist and the phenomenal Kate Ceberano, joining the concert as a final appearance at her final Adelaide cabaret Festival as Artistic Director and to top it all off 23 superb musicians from the Adelaide Art Orchestra.      

Singer, Ritchie and violinist,Rogeon take turns to conduct the orchestra as they re-arrange and re-imagine some of the world’s greatest songs. Ritchie opens with a primal arrangement of Massive Attack’s Teardrop. This is going to be a very special event! It is soon followed by Kate Ceberano’s scream from the soul in Wild is the Wind, a version of the Ned Washington number that Ceberano makes her very own, “It was good in rehearsal,” Ritchie says, “but that is ridiculous.”

That’s not all that’s ridiculous. IOTA’s haunting, eerie voice soars high above the audience in the song All of Your Things. Auldist fills the theatre with her soul. The audience sits, transported by the music, seduced by the song and carried along by Ritchie’s larrikin swagger and bourbon thirsty nonchalance. I am not a musician, but I find myself beguiled by modern classical sounds of an orchestra, swayed by the challenge of invention and singers imbued with the spirit of their song. THE RAAH PROJECT’s The New Score takes us beyond the expected and leads us into what Ryan calls the Dark Arts,  that light our way to the new.

The two people sitting next to me have not returned after interval. Fools! THE RAAH PROJECT has new surprises in store. I slip in to the empty seat to escape the head that had obscured my view. The haunting, seductive orchestral sweeping sound and genre bending song give way to popular sway. Hip hop takes to the stage, as Ritchie solicits random words from the audience to construct his hip-hop verse. The words come as the lights go up on the auditorium; Love , pancakes, computer, avocado, vodka, Adelaide and several more and Ryan Ritchie  spits his halting verse into the microphone. The words begin to flow and soon the hip hop rhythm of his imagination gives cohesion to the random vocabulary and the audience breaks into appreciative applause. Ceberano steps forward to announce their surprise guest and in a flash of stardom, Darlene Love takes the stage with her four backing vocalists and musical director, Michael Jacobson and for the next 20 minutes the powerhouse of pop and rock thrills with her song and her spirit. Audience leap to their feet to pound the beat of Mountain High – River Deep. The Festival Theatre goes wild.

The mirror ball sends its patterns across the theatre. The orchestra, under Rogeon brings in the improvised rhythms of Jazzbar 2025. Is this the sound of the future or the imaginings of a time when freedom will find her style? The Adelaide Art Orchestra merges and then slides away as strings, percussion, woodwind and brass find distinctive voice in the improvised score and the extraordinary final event of the 2014 Adelaide Cabaret Festival comes to a close amidst an applauding, cheering wave of adulation. The bold challenge has found conquest in THE NEW SCORE.

I barter over a Vinyl in the foyer and Ryan Ritchie kindly strikes a deal. The CDs are all gone by the time I arrive. He who hesitates, but there is a stature to a vinyl that a CD can never hope to have. My house can now be filled with the sounds that thrilled tonight. Next door in the Piano Bar, patrons sit to hear the next generation of cabaret performers as some members of the University of South Australia’s Cabaret Intensive Workshop Week strut their song upon the tiny stage. The magic of tonight’s performance of The New Score and other cabaret performances I have seen during my visit to Adelaide in the festival’s final week fill with hope the future for the cabaret artists of tomorrow.