Presented by The Lost Fingers and the Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed Thursday 21st June 2012
Quebec’s The Lost Fingers take their name from the partially crippled left hand of Django Reinhardt, the great Belgian Manouche Gypsy guitarist at the centre of the creation of the Gypsy Jazz style in the 1930s. This concert takes its name from that of their first album, released in 2008, and the music comes from that and their later albums, Rendez-Vous Rose, Gypsy Kameleon, and La Marquise. This is not a concert centring on the music of Django Reinhardt, Stéphane Grappelli and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, however, but a merging of that style of jazz with the music of the 1980s.
The three performers, Alex Morissette, on bass and backing vocals, Dr. Christian Roberge, on guitar, zurna (a Turkish double reed instrument, something like an oboe), and lead vocals, and Byron Mikaloff, on guitar and backing vocals, take pop and rock music from the 80s and make it swing. Roberge even plays a Selmer-Macaferri guitar, with the larger D shaped sound hole, the type played by Reinhardt. Beneath the modified vocal line is that characteristic pulsating rhythm know as ‘la pompe’ (the pump), staccato chords accenting the second and fourth beats of the bar, using chords found in gypsy music, complex chords rather than simple major and minor chords.
A lot of excitement and applause was generated by the very fast picking of the two guitarists in their solos, with the fingers of their left hands flying over the frets. With only two fingers working, Reinhardt was restricted in what chords he could play, so he taught himself a whole new way of playing and lightning fast solos became a big part of his sound and styling and, of course, a major element of Gypsy Jazz. Roberge and Mikaloff continue that tradition with some highly skilled playing.
Eventually, though, the novelty of revamped songs began to wear off and, with the tunes all played at much the same tempo with that same constant rhythmic accompaniment, it did all start to sound much the same. Admittedly, there was a good percentage of the audience crying out for more at the end and, with two encores, the concert was extended to ninety minutes. On the other hand, there were a number of people who left well before the end. Perhaps it was too much of a good thing, or maybe it needed a dance floor, as this was another event that was not a really cabaret performance, with only a brief introduction to the various numbers and no great connection to the audience.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.
Venue: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Season: to 23rd June 2012
Duration: 1hr 10mins
Tickets: $39.90 to $49.90
Bookings: BASS 13 12 46 or here