herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Happy sound of silliness on the western front

A man they call 'The Storyteller' is holding up a box of cornflakes. Behind him, 'The Youngfeller' carries a smaller box. Microphones are raised, shoes are lifted, and the cereal is crushed. It's the sound of silliness; of grown men having just a little too much fun with adult life. It's also the sound of a ridiculously inventive production courtesy of the excellent Spaghetti Western Orchestra.

Of course, it's this gangly Australian quintet's hero to whom the group and their increasingly large audiences owe a great deal of gratitude. The music of Italian composer Ennio Morricone played an extraordinary part in defining the atmosphere and feel of director Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Western features (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, A Fistful of Dollars, etc). So, it was inevitable that, one day, a skilful bunch of lads from Down Under would get together and reinterpret Morricone's vast and often intimidating repertoire for a modern audience.



Gloves

The orchestra approaches the task at hand with a level of dedication and craft not normally associated with tribute acts. And that might have something to do with the fact that the musicians standing in front of us are so much more than a tribute band.

They are masters of percussion. And let's not forget some of the wackier ingredients in a show that relies on the sounds of more than 100 instruments and various other objects. An asthma inhaler; leaf branches; coat hangers; rubber gloves; indeed, what this show sometimes lacks in terms of structure and theme, it more than makes up for with tremendously creative musicianship, and meticulously devised delivery

Patrick Cronin shines as the aforementioned 'Storyteller' -- his dirty (and pretend) US accent and sublime whistling skills sitting nicely atop the booming backbeat of drummer Graeme Leak ('The Bankteller'). And if you've ever heard the sound of an audience actually singing along to the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, then you'll know just how fun this show really is. Superb stuff. HHHHI

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