[ADELAIDE PREMIERE ~ USA]
Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, Sat 11 Aug.
Kaki King has a well-deserved reputation as an innovative guitar phenomenon, backed by years of performance. But it’s clear that her art is moving beyond that of a guitar player. This piece clearly centres around her guitar and not only musically. The guitar, painted white, is a screen in and of itself, is a carefully constructed multimedia presentation, supplemented with a large video screen behind her. The stage is set with the guitar propped up in a suitable playing position. The instrument becomes more than a sonic canvas. Each musical piece has its own accompaniment, in both sound and in video.
It might seem strange, but the oddest video effect was when the guitar was portrayed as a standard acoustic style guitar. In another piece the guitar was also the feature of a video story, the oddball guitar clearly a metaphor for an oddball young Kaki King; not quite fitting in, but being urged to practise and work harder at her craft. It is clear that simply playing guitar is no longer King’s goal. We were witness to an exploration of multiple playing techniques, use of a guitar fretboard more as a Chapman stick than a guitar, slapping, scratching and even to the point of an additional mid-bridge designed piece that allowed the guitar to be played like a Japanese Koto (or Chinese Gaishung). At times the video projection even became a bit of a cat and mouse chase game on the guitar – adding some humour to the show.
There were explorations of various soundscapes including melodic guitar and heavy distorted metal sounds with a clear intent to bring the audience along with her on a well-planned journey, though not one for the faint-hearted. Psychedelia, vivid colour projections and racing video movement, to the more gentle melodic pieces, kept this gig action packed!
Throughout the concert there was just a little audience interaction from the stage (no microphone), a little acknowledgement here and there, but at no time did we feel neglected, ignored or unimportant in the scheme of things. At the end of the set we had just a little from King on microphone and were tantalised with the thought of a post-concert interview with Julia Zamiro, where King was able to clearly express her intents, talking about her own life and musical development, and how the current show has been developed.
As per the title, The Neck Is A Bridge To The Body, Kaki King speaks mainly through her guitar, she speaks well and clearly, but the added elements of video add some fun and clarity. A great show!
Image courtesy of Simone Cecchetti