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July 20, 2009 | by  | in Theatre |
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Strike Session


Adam Page must be some kind of superhero. His capacity to soothe rabid beats with lapping loops and pugnacious poise borders on the extraordinary. The Australian improv musician has sauntered his sax from Adelaide all the way to Edinburgh, and finds himself grounded—and on form—at Downstage with local percussion ensemble Strike.

Percussion groups have a remarkable capacity to set pulses alight, and Strike is by no means an exception. Their vivacious rhythms barrel from drum, symbol, and iron sheet alike, gorging themselves upon the audience’s senses and sense of wonder. The collaboration, which has been in the works since February, pits the maestro Page against the professional poise of Strike’s rich rumble and produces a sound unique and often mesmerising.

Split into two halves, the first sees Strike at their most formidable, pulsing through a set of thundering percussion pieces utilising just about everything and anything that produces sound. The addition of Page’s talents on saxophone, clarinet, and, well, himself, enriches their percussive marvels and adds an x-factor sadly missed when not around.

The second half is difficult to reconcile given its nature. Page slots himself on centre stage amidst a variety of different instruments, tools and vegetables (his kumara flute is something else), and fixes Strike to work improvising a set nigh on an hour long.

The Adelaide musician manages to craft an effective and professional-sounding gambit out of his improv, and while there were instances of wrong key signatures and moments of technical misanthropy, you can not help marvel the man’s ability to make glorious something out of virtually nothing.

While Strike sign everything they do with consummate class, one feels they miss the sprinklings of genius Page offers when he’s not on stage. The orgy of fanatical drums echoing around Page’s didgeridoo wails right before the interval lend stock to this: Strike are wealthy, but with Page they are rich.

Perhaps the most endearing point about Adam Page is his charm and finesse. You find yourself riding shotgun through this kid’s candy store jaunt and loving every second of its sweet, saccharine fun. Talents like Strike and Page are to be indulged with no regard for a sweet tooth; they’re treats well deserved and well enjoyed.

Strike Session
with Adam Page
Performed by Strike and Adam Page
Stage Manager: Sonia Hardie
With Adam Page, Murray Hickman, Seleni Sulusi, Sam Minns, Takumi Motokawa, Gene Peterson, and Stephanie Engelbrecht.

At Downstage from 14 July to 1 August
$25 tickets for students
Details at Downstage

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