Space Theatre, Wed 10 Jun
It took about thirty seconds for me to be swaying in my seat to the vocal sounds of Lisa Young, the group’s resident expert on the music of South India. If you’ve ever heard a Tabla player and a classical Indian singer engaged in the routine of singer imitating drum, you’ll have a fair idea of what the voices are doing in this kind of music. It’s a language of beat and nuance where the voice mimics percussive sounds. Coco’s Lunch layer their own arrangements over this rhythmic language to create a delightful effect.
Not all of their songs featured Indian influences. The group travels widely and mine ‘the sounds of the planet’ (thank you Womadelaide!) to create their own repertoire. But all of their material is original. And every song had me either moving to the rhythms, or drifting to precious harmonies. An enchanting song with its roots in the African countryside was sheer joy. As indeed are most of their songs. There are no down moments – just celebrations of life, places, love and unity.
Many songs were embellished with percussion instruments from various cultures, and the harmonies were tight and soulful. Some lovely rich deep tones were a special treat, particularly on their final ‘hymn’.
I was wanting, and maybe expecting, some stand out solo singing – the occasional ‘let it rip’ moment if you will, but this is not what Coco’s Lunch are about. It’s about group. Ensemble. Doing things together. And they should be applauded for that.
Though it was table seating, there was not a lot of interaction with the audience apart from song introductions. All focus was squarely on the stage, so I wonder what was cabaret about this performance. Does it matter? I’m certainly not complaining. An uplifting show from a group of wonderful singer-composers. A national treasure indeed.
Coco’s Lunch continues at Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, from 7pm until Thu 11 Jun.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Image courtesy of Shami Kiely