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Fringe review: Adelaide Songs

Adelaide Fringe

Adelaide Songs is a presentation by local musicians of their own compositions celebrating and reflecting on their home city and its history, with musical styles varying from blues to ballads, from comedy to biting satire. ★★★★

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“How Adelaide is this?” asks musician Paul Roberts by way of introduction. “Forty degrees outside and we’re squeezed into a French bar to hear songs about Adelaide!”

He and fellow singer-songwriters Paula Standing, Alan Hartley and Keith Preston were there to present a creative blend of music to honour their home city – sometimes with satire and occasionally with a sharp reminder of the Adelaide’s flaws, past and present.

The evening started with Hartley’s gentle anthem to Adelaide’s founding fathers, who had high ideals of inclusive freedom, but we were then jolted to a different place as Preston reminded us that those ideals were soon stolen, along with a generation of Indigenous children, at a dark house in Blackwood called “Colebrook”.

“Square Mile City Blues” lightened the mood once again (with some neat guitar work from Preston), then Paula Standing performed a show favourite, “Lucky Girl”, in which she used a tremulous voice and evocative keyboard accompaniment to tell the story of Funi and the real reason for Wang Wang’s failure.

The “Hindley Street Waltz” led us happily through the notorious entertainment strip before we were once more reminded of our darker past as Hartley sang “Timmy”, about Marcus Clark and the collapse of the State Bank.

“Athens of the South” gave the musicians a chance to shine with a Mediterranean style, then two more blues compositions followed, with a poignant story from Stormy Summers’ perspective and an appropriately topical “Festival Overload Blues”.

Roberts introduced the perennial question among Adelaideans with the satirical “My School’s Better than Yours”, then Standing brought the audience back to more reflective mood with a heartfelt apology to the next generation in “We Took It All”.

The evening concluded with a rousing anthem for audience participation and we all sang along happily with “Colonel Light He Got It Right”.

These are talented and thoughtful songwriters and skilled musicians, supported wonderfully by sensitive fiddler Ashley Turner and delicate but appropriate percussionist Satomi Ohnishi.  The show has been in existence for some years, but the songs are continually updated, and more are added so you will always hear something new.

The enthusiastic response from this audience is an indication that Adelaide Songs continues to delight all those who live in and love this city.

Adelaide Songs is being presented at La Boheme until March 3. See more Adelaide Fringe reviews and stories here.

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