Friday 2nd September 2022, Adelaide Festival Theatre. Adelaide Symphony Orchestra + John Schumann and the Vagabond Crew with Richard Roxburgh as Narrator.
Overall I enjoyed it. I’m a big John Schumann fan and I’ve seen this show (without the ASO) three times now. I reckon the Lawson album is some of his best work. That said, the second half of the show was much better than the first. I thought the band overwhelmed the orchestra in the first bit – I was really struggling to pick out the orchestral instruments apart from the percussion section.
Not sure whether they were given a heads up, but pretty sure they turned the band down post interval. They started with Scot of the Riverena (my favorite off the album) and the power of the orchestra really came through, and stayed that way for the rest of the set. Highlight (though it’s not Lawson) was the ‘encore’ when they did Only 19 with an orchestra – hands down the best version I’ve ever heard.
I thought Roxburgh did a good job as the narrator. A nice way to introduce/explain the verse from the perspective of Henry’s life and he gave a certain emotion that wouldn’t have been there if it was delivered by Schumann. It was educational to understand why and at what point in his (tortured) life Lawson wrote those poems. Made me wish I’d listened more in school and that we hadn’t spent so much time on F. Scott Fitzgerald (Gatsby) and Wilfred Owen in matric.
One interesting thing I noted. It always annoys me when whoever is mixing puts the instruments over the top of the vocals so as you can’t make out the words. If I hadn’t listened to the songs a hundred times already I’d not know what they were singing. Schumann and Polly Politis were really hard to understand. But at one point the rhythm guitarist (Rohan Powell) sang a couple of verses and he was clear as day. Then I struck me, it’s not the mix, it’s diction, he was pronouncing things and singing clearly which made all the difference!
I’d definitely go see it again, though I would get a better seat