Clubroom in the GC at the German Club, Wed 22 Feb
Lord Of The Strings is an apt title for Mathew Fagan’s show. He treats his audience to string wizardry on a selection of guitars, banjo, and ukulele. He begins with a flowing medley of tunes on a 10-string guitar that includes Greensleeves, Beatles, and Stairway To Heaven. Another medley of tunes for Billy Connolly follows – Fagan supported Connolly on his tour of Australia and they became close friends. Some classic Flamenco numbers come after we all try a few hand and finger stretching exercises.
He turns to Hawaii for some slide playing on the very first style of guitar ever created. After a brief interlude on banjo Fagan asks the audience for suggestions of guitar pieces he might play. And hey presto there’s an impressive instrumental medley that includes well known classical pieces, Leo Kottke, Classical Gas, and Joe Satriani!
The next two pieces were from Dire Strait’s Mark Knopfler – a testament to the high regard Fagan has for Knopfler, and a reminder of just how good Knopfler is. His version of Sultans Of Swing was stunning.
In a concession to the extraordinary recent popularity of the ukulele he trots out a brilliant medley of well-known songs that sounded fantastic. The ukulele can no longer be considered a ‘joke’ – in the hands of someone like Matthew Fagan it sounds rich and melodic.
The show closed with some slick blues to round out a wonderful selection of stringed music.
There’s no doubting Fagan’s ability – he’s a virtuoso on strings – but there was a cavalier, jocular attitude to his playing that seemed to reflect a reluctance on his part to accept just how good he is. I’d like to have heard less of the showman on occasion and some more pieces that were less frenetic, and with the opportunity to showcase his ability with more feeling and less technical prowess. Sometimes less can be more.
Still, it was a real treat for lovers of strings, and guitars in particular. Less of the showman and more of the musician would have made it even better.
Lord Of The Strings continues at Clubroom at The GC at The German Club, at various times, until Sun 26 Mar.
Book at FringeTIX on 1300 621 255 or adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.