[MUSIC/Country ~ UK]
Regal Theatre, Fri 14 Feb.
Night Owl productions are making a big splash at this year’s Fringe with several shows in the proliferating genre of tributes to music of the past. The Nashville Story is their first cab off the rank. Using what they call a ‘show-umentrary’ format, live music is interspersed with pre-recorded narration over screened slides. In the classic cinema setting like the Regal Theatre the projections are big and add a level of gravitas.
Hannah Richards and Alex Beharrell curiously craft their country music skills on a farm ‘in the middle of nowhere’ somewhere in England. And their skills are considerable. Beharell is an accomplished guitar player and dispels any notion that country music is simple and straightforward. His tasteful arrangements were at times more jazz than country and his deft picking style brings a lovely melodic touch.
Hannah Richards’ vocals are exquisite. She has just that right amount of country twang and an ability to milk every drop of emotion out of a lyric. She adds delicious twists of melody to her vocal lines that would win over the most cynical of hearts. Country music as played by these two is sweet and classy.
The Nashville narrative is a bonus on top of the gorgeous music. It charts the various directions and styles that country music has taken over the decades and is full of snippets of information about the lives of past country greats like Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, and Merle Haggard, and arrives at the present day and ‘new country’ with songs and tales from the lives of Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, and Taylor Swift.
There were a few first show nerves, and I reckon they should move the stage closer to the audience, but this show was a real treat – an indulgent luxury for lovers of country music, and could well convert the unbelievers. I could listen to Hannah Richards’ vocals for hours.
The Nashville Story continues at Regal Theatre from 7pm until Fri 28 Feb.
Book at FringeTIX on 1300 621 255 or adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.