Review by Markus Hamence – Thursday 7 December performance, Trinity Sessions.
Revered Folk Jazz trio Elixir are currently touring their fourth studio album, ‘A Small Shy Truth’. The album, which will is on limited edition CD and Vinyl, is based on the poetry of Melbourne poet and National Living Treasure, Michael Leunig and features the compositions of the three band members – National Jazz Award, ARIA Award winning and Freedman Jazz Fellowship finalist saxophonist/composer Zac Hurren, Freedman Jazz Fellowship winning and National Jazz Award finalist guitarist Benjamin Hauptmann and 5 x ARIA, AWMA, AIR and APRA award winning musician Katie Noonan…
Elixir’s ‘A Small Shy Truth Tour’ venue of choice for the Adelaide leg was a stunning church venue on Goodwood Road, Clarence Park – Trinity Sessions. The grand and gothic architecture and lofty ceiling set the backdrop to what was about to be, an immeasurable evening of music…
The newish Adelaide trio, Laurel, opened for Elixir and holy moly, they were mesmerising. Delicately sweeping through song like a soft breeze, it set a perfect tone to commence the evening. Tara McHenry, Sophie Zerna & Laura Williams are sublime with voices from heaven. Lightening stuck when these three aligned. One of Adelaide’s favourite pianists backed the ladies, Brenton Foster, and played like the pro that he is. It is now my opinion, this guy can play anything. I have had him work with me accompanying Casey Donavan, he’s been part of iconic jazz band Etype Jazz and of course his own solo work. He knows his stuff. But, Laurel, just wow. The self-penned songs are simple beautiful story-tellings and I was engaged from the first note. Beginning with ‘Living In This Dream’ through to the finale ‘Keepsake’ the three angelic voices blissfully took us on their happy journey. A stand out for me was ‘Cry Wolf’, the arrangement was perfection. We can expect to hear a lot more from Laurel I dare say.
After a small break it was time for my first experience of seeing Katie Noonan’s Elixir live (not even sure how I have not considering the few decades that have in fact been around). We are no stranger to Katie’s breathtaking voice, from her work with the band George and other pieces of work, but in the guise of Elixir is something special. Katie’s voice transcends us and is indeed an instrument she is very much in tune with, it is not unlike listening to nature whisper to you.
The performance runs through the ‘A Small Shy Truth’ in entirety, in order and with brief spoken story introductions for the meaning behind the song, words, poetry. The poetry, by poet and artist, Michael Leunig, has given a teeny bit of ‘poetic license’ (pun intended) to run into song and are carfeully strung toegther works that magically weave images before us. It is an authentic performance of soul, beauty, simpleness and spirituality.
Beginning with ‘Boyhood Poem’ – ‘I was alone a lot, I lived a life that I forgot, I was broken, I was mended, I pretended I was loved, bits of me were shoved against a wall’… it aimed at the ears and bounced straight into the heart.
The title track ‘A Small Shy Truth’, is anything but small, the message is big, hopeful and loving and could well be my new anthem for good mental health.
We play amongst the tracks with the entire audience sat quietly and thoroughly engaged in the work that is close to, if not, a masterpiece.
Zac Hurren (Katie’s partner and husband) is nothing short of musically gifted, on just recently becoming a pianist you could have never known if not mentioned. But, it his saxophone that he is most connected to, it is like an extension of him and he is at one with the instrument. A true talent that plays from their soul not from the head.
Ben Hauptman is equally gifted, his guitar work is soothing to watch and experience. In fact the solos that occur during the performance showcase how brilliant these guys are. I cannot express in words, it was more than just music being played.
Adelaide based Chilean percussionist, Fabian Hevia, made cameos during some songs and added an earthy cultural quality with his rythmic groove.
The encore, without being an encore haha, was a transient piece that brought back the Laurel ladies and it finished the night perfectly with the most stunning harmonies.
To wrap up, a fricken beautiful evening of music, that is gentle, inspiring, hope giving, natural and soothing. It has definitely directed and influenced my music listening during my day today.
Can I suggest at least one thing, go and buy the album on cd or vinyl, sit back in your favourite comfy armchair, with a glass of your favourite tipple (or non-alcoholic version) and listen to this art piece that is ‘A Small Shy Truth’, through headphones would be beneficial, but not required.
A special shout-out to Roger and Yvonne Freeman for providing a great live entertainment venue with positive vibes.