[Music – France, Australia]
Antoine Boyer and Yeore Kim with special guest, Kathleen Halloran
Dunstan Playhouse, 16 July 2023
This was Kathleen Halloran’s very first solo performance and she confessed to being very nervous. She needn’t have worried. Nervous or not, she delivered a masterful set of acoustic guitar tunes, though at times she made her acoustic guitar sound as close as you can get to electric guitar.
She’s quite engrossing to watch – her passion for her music is obvious and she’s quite a physical performer. She played and sang several of her own tunes and is an accomplished vocalist. She made ample use of a looper to establish guitar patterns that she could then overlay with lead breaks. This gives her a big sound and she doesn’t shy away from delivering big moments. Her version of Sultans of Swing was a case in point – quite brilliant. She said she normally plays it with Guitar Festival director Slava Grigoryan, but Kathleen – you can tell Slava you don’t need him anymore!
Halloran’s an engaging performer. She has a lovely stage presence and her material, whether others or her own, get brave, original arrangements that are impressive and compelling.
It’s not the notes you play. It’s the notes you don’t play.
In music, silence is more important than sound.
I have trouble with virtuoso instrumentalists – I admit it. While I have enormous respect for their prodigious talent, and even feel a little awestruck when hearing and watching them play, I just wish they’d slow down sometimes and leave some more space for me to join the dots. Quantity of notes played does not automatically equal quality.
However, Antoine Boyer is astonishing. His ease, speed, and accuracy as he travels up and down the neck of the guitar is ridiculous. His elegant hands just flow from one chord to the next in seamless transition. He could play just about anything in any style you want – as he showed with The Beatles’ Blackbird. Straight, blues, jazz, folk, funk – nothing’s impossible. His set consisted of a selection of his own material and covers by Charlie Haden, Ennio Morricone, and a version of Over the Rainbow possibly tailored for an Australian (Oz) audience.
The majority of the set was shared with his partner Yeore Kim. How someone from Korea ends up playing harmonica to gypsy jazz tunes in Paris has to be a fascinating tale in its own right. The harmonica in these arrangements occupies the place where you might otherwise hear an accordion. It was interesting to hear harmonica as a jazz instrument. Kim and Boyer clearly have a very close and trusting musical relationship and they gently feel their way through improvisational landscapes coaxing the other to join them in new directions. It’s all very finely balanced, and involves quite a bit of risk. It doesn’t always work but let’s quote Miles Davis again: ”It’s not the note you play that’s the wrong note – it’s the note you play afterwards that makes it right or wrong.”
The standing ovation at the end was affirmation that they generally got it right!
This was the only performance of Antoine Boyer and Yeore Kim.