Review: Adam Page
Meow, Wellington, until Sunday February 24
Adam Page first wowed the Fringe as a visitor - but he swiftly fell in love with Wellington and through a series of solo and collaborative projects he found reason to return, two and three times a year. Finally, the Australian upped sticks and settled. It's an even busier Fringe Festival season for Page now that he's a local, appearing in several shows, mixing comedy with music. But his run of solo shows at Meow is still the best introduction to the musical world of Adam Page.
A saxophonist, turned multi-instrumentalist, Page uses a loop pedal to build an orchestra of himself. Crucially, he knows when to play the gimmick to the hilt and when to leave the humour on the shelf to lose himself and enchant the audience in layers of saxophone, flute and his own vocal percussion. From beat-boxing to throat singing, Page has become an impressive, adaptable drum-machine for his melodic instruments to curl and lap across.
A chorus of saxophone lines wafted over the rhythmic hum of glottal chanting.And then Page shifts gears. His safety is living on the edge, an old game of musical mash-ups, merging metal, jazz and opera is not a lazy comedy-piece. Even if the results vary night to night (surely part of the point) Page is giving over to improvisation, walking a musical tightrope, engaging with the audience, showcasing his skills across other instruments (keyboards, guitar) and yet he always knows when to move a performance back to the music, away from the folly. And he tore down the safety net a long time ago.
A harmony flute enabled Page to wind two melodies around one another and earlier his saxophone was soaring and singing, it also spat and honked, Page wailed, he had people smiling, heads shaking at times in disbelief as the dizzying layers were peeled back to seem so simple. His hard working approach is an inspiration too, straight from one show on to the next. Wellington is lucky to have him. And to have so much of him.