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Words Without Music


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A very appreciative audience at Her Majesty’s Theatre reflected the interest that exists for events such as the Adelaide Word Festival. Words Without Music was an evening with Guy Pratt, bass player for Icehouse and Pink Floyd, Gary Kemp, singer, songwriter, guitarist for Spandau Ballet, Taasha Coates, who is one half of The Audreys and Leo Sayer, the one man band who doesn’t seem to age and whose voice sounds as strong and vibrant as ever.

Guy Pratt was host to the intentionally casual, anecdotal and seemingly off the cuff show. He got the program off to a lively start, setting the tone for the night and often injected quick-witted comments, jokes or enlightening anecdotes of his own, as he has played with and known some of the major musicians of the 20th century.

The evening began with each performer talking about their first forays into expressing themselves in words and music and, satisfyingly, they were not necessarily child prodigies, with their art and performance skills developing along a significant journey. The usual topics were covered such as whether the words or music come first and whether a song composed in sleep or a dream still sounds good in the morning. In the second half audience questions were answered which provided opportunities for more quick wit as well as genuine responses.

Although the night was called Words Without Music, thankfully each artist performed a few songs when relevant to the conversation. Even the occasional snippet of a song enhanced what was being said and helped make a complete evening.

Taasha Coates sang and spoke beautifully and movingly throughout the evening whether she was playing her very first song, a song that she felt hadn’t quite worked or an Audrey’s hit such as “You and Steve McQueen”. Gary Kemp’s tales were engaging and his acoustic renditions of “True”, “Gold” and “Through the Barricades” were highlights of the night. Leo Sayer’s distinctive voice was superb when he sang “Just a Boy” (recorded by Roger Daltry) and his anecdotes about the stories behind “Moonlighting” and “One Man Band”‘, added to our understanding and appreciation of them, enabling us to see each of them in a new light.

The panel had a good rapport with each other and seemed to be delighting in each other’s company. Leo Sayer seemed quite chuffed that he had Gary Kemp accompanying him on guitar when singing. They conveyed to the audience some of the rewards of their involvement in the music business, their delights and frustrations with song-writing and we learned something of the ups and downs of the industry.

It was good to see performers on the world stage just as themselves in a much more modest environment providing insights about their own struggles as well as their achievements. They seemed somehow like ordinary people and yet they are extraordinary artists. Some moments struck more chords and some comments were more profound than others, but essentially it was marvellous that such talented and successful artists were willing and able to share with us something about their lives, how words impacted on them and how they went about the art of songwriting.

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