Cabaret is becoming a more adventurous and open genre of music and performance in the modern day – though deeply rooted in classical jazz tradition, classical jazz musicians today are becoming more varied artists who aim to break out beyond tradition. Them There Eyes, commissioned by Adelaide Cabaret Festival Artistic Director Ali McGregor, is proof of this.
This conceptual show sees four of her favourite genre-defying musicians thrown together to create a performance around the 2018 festival theme ‘eyes open’. The artists – Sydney vocalist Emma Pask, Melbourne singer-songwriter/guitarist Jamie MacDowell, Brisbane beat-boxer Tom Thum, and Adelaide's undefinable jazz/loop wizard Adam Page – all have such varying styles and sounds that it was unconceivable how they would all fit together…and yet, they did. Performing some jazz standards, contemporary hits, mash-ups, originals and on the spot jams, using their many talents, instruments, and technology, the audience is moved and amused by the familiar but unique music they hear. The audience is swept up into the set themselves when Page ventures into the audience with a looping app and turns various showgoers' sounds into a song. The design elements of the show itself were also very effective, with the stage and spectator space taking place entirely on the Festival Centre stage - decorated with homely lamps and furniture to evoke an intimate but VIP atmosphere.
All up, Them There Eyes was a courageous performance that could’ve been a compositional catastrophe, but ultimately was a masterpiece due to the astounding ability of the artists. This project paid off for everyone involved, from the director, to the musicians, to the audience, who in the words of Billie Holiday, “fell in love with them there eyes”.
Thumbnail image via Adelaide Cabaret Festival website