Cabaret Festival

Cabaret Festival Review: Needle In The Hay

Reverent, loyal, and very well arranged, “Needle In The Hay” is for Elliot Smith fans and newbies alike

Reverent, loyal, and very well arranged, “Needle In The Hay” is for Elliot Smith fans and newbies alike

Presented by: Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed: 22 June, 2023

20 years on since the passing of Elliot Smith, The Adelaide Cabaret Festival assembled a talented group of local musicians to pay tribute to his body of work. Included in the line-up were 2020 National Jazz Award-winning vocalist, Lauren Henderson, Adelaide jazz legend Lyndon Gray, and Zephyr Quartet violinist Emily Tulloch.

The gig felt somber and sorrowful, but not without its own warmth and joyful moments. Perfectly set in The Adelaide Festival Centre’s intimate Quartet Bar, fans of Smith’s work were treated to an intriguing and challenging interpretation of his music which was never disrespectful, but full of appreciation and admiration.

Not to be confused with just a covers show though, this performance saw Smith’s work interpreted and arranged to utilise a combination of instruments including strings, bass, piano, digital drums and samples, audio clips of Smith himself, and even a Theremin. The music itself, with its underlying themes of trauma/depression/angst/sadness juxtaposed with sweetness, love and empathy, takes centre stage and owns it in this reimagining of Smith’s work.

Those unfamiliar with Elliott Smith’s work wouldn’t have felt out of the loop. Well, maybe a little, but the performers’ talent and affable nature more than made up for this. This wasn’t a concert, it was a homage, and it was easy to see and feel that this homage comes from a place of much reverence, respect, and admiration.

Who knows if we’ll see Needle In The Hay performed again in this manner, but if you do see it promoted, it’s well worth your time and attention.

Reviewed by Doug Phillips

Photo credit: supplied

Venue: Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: Ended
Duration: 45 Mins

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