Adam Page – Chairman of the Beard

So then. After lamenting in my last review a pair of talented composers downplaying the live-looping element of their performance, the Fringe fate-gods sent forth a bearded emissary to well and truly square the ledger. Adam Page, the accomplished Adelaide-bred ‘Chairman of the Beard’, explores the extreme outer possibilities of a hirsute chin, some live sampling, and a set of loop boxes up front and to extraordinary effect.

Enthusiastically embraced by the two-hundred strong sell-out audience, Page embarks on an energetic and exuberant celebration of all things musical, drawing from a plethora of acoustic play-toys – from a bass to a bottle to a bull-horn and beyond – to then manipulate the captive collection of real-time samples into madcap compositions. Largely improvised, this is a fast-paced exhibition of masterful, multi-channel pedal-pushing.

More than just a one man band for the digital age, Page is witty, inventive and charming, an all-round performer and trained multi-instrumentalist capable of producing technically-sound, on-the-spot homages across a range of musical genres — such as that when the accidental ‘Alice Holden hoedown’ morphs into a circa 88 hip-hop beat from the New York City streets, it all seems to make a certain sort of sense.

In fact, the only minor flat spot is when the loopy maestro takes his feet off the pedals for an extended sax-aside, setting up a brief struggle to seize back momentum after the first fifteen frantic minutes. And even then, Page’s other foray away from the pedals, in the form of an otherworldly outro featuring an Andes-via-Aotearoan double-flute, manages in itself to bring about the goose-bumps. A half-star quibble in an otherwise brilliant show.

If, like me, you’ve spent considerable hours wondering what it might sound like if a viola virtuoso from the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra dragged his horse-hairs across a clutch of man-beard fibres, and then, if that violent, resulting sound could possibly be used as the basis for a tune befitting a sloppy sunrise on a beach in Ibiza, then I’d recommend this show without reservation (although a reservation is probably recommendable). Four and a half stars. Long live Chairman Page!

★★★★½