Jess Ciampa, Shannon Birchall, Graeme Leak, Boris Conley & Patrick Cronin
Instruments include: bassoon, bells, bird-wings sound effect, body-drop sound effect, bouncy ball pump, castanets, chickens sound effect, child-sized boot, claves, coat hangers, concert bass drum, concert tom-toms, cornflakes (small and large packet), creaky-door sound effect, double bass, drum kit, Dutch clog and tambourine jingles, egg shakers, electronic sampler, bird whistle, finger cymbals, footsteps sound effect, frog clicker, harmonica (working), harmonica (broken), horseshoe, Jew’s harps, Kat midi controller (two octaves), latch-bolt sound effect, mandolin, maracas, melodeon, nail clippers, nail file, ocarina, one-note saxophone, orchestral whip, packaging tape, Pan pipes, pianoforte, plastic bags, policeman’s whistle, ratchet, reel-to-reel tape machine, sticks and twigs, string can, suspended cymbals, synthesizer, tam tam, theremin, timpani, tin whistle, trumpet, tuned beer bottles, two-tone whistle, ukulele, Vibraphone wind machine, and wooden cowbells
Denis Blais – Director & Designer
Glynis Henderson – Producer
Reviewed by: Andrew Morris
Reviewed: 12 August, 2011
Venue: Royal Albert Hall, London
Five Australian multi-instrumentalists formed an ‘orchestra’ to celebrate the Rome-based composer’s music after finding it the perfect accompaniment to a game of cards. In a concert they take the characters of bit players, such as a bank-teller or a Mexican bandit. Patrick Cronin takes the lead, compering in a gruff American accent, and between them the five play their roles with a sly and slightly unhinged humour. Their act, though, is as much a tribute to the Foley artist (those men and women who supply sound-effects for films with a panoply of improvised instruments and objects) as it is to the Spaghetti Western and much of the humour derives from their oddball choices of noises: cornflakes demonstrating cowboy boots treading across gravel, and an entire shoot-out played out only in sound.
Their musical choices here mixed the instantly recognisable with the less familiar. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was dispatched fairly early on (and again for an audience-participation encore) and music from the other entries on Sergio Leone’s other man-with-no-name films featured prominently. From the greatest of all Leone’s westerns, Once Upon a Time in the West, came Cheyenne’s jaunty but relaxed character-piece and a theremin solo for Claudia Cardinale’s first glimpse of the frontier town she’s married into. Unexpectedly lovely was ‘Chi Mai’ from Maddalena, with its blown bottles and plucked bass accompaniment.
Maybe, though, the act was a little lost in the Royal Albert Hall. Some of the sight gags fell flat because much of the audience was too distant to get the joke, and while the group made use of the great organ in their intro, the demands of television created too bright an atmosphere – like sitting in a cinema with the house lights up. The group never really reached the ramped-up levels of intensity familiar from, say, the mind-blowing final confrontation of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly because the amplified sound-levels stayed so tame. But what a joy it was to revisit the music of faded genre that some of us, at least, still hold up as some of the greatest entertainment ever devised.