REVIEW: The Adults with La Vida, Nelson School of Music, Saturday night.
Billed as "innovative and adventurous", I had a sinking feeling early in the show that this collaboration of two very different groups of musicians just wasn't working. The Adults bass and drum volume on several of the first numbers was amped up so high in that modest space that La Vida's string quartet presence was often overwhelmed.
This performance began with The Adults rocking on, apparently doing what they always do, while Nelson's La Vida played on the side, unheard, like a classy decoration, apart from Kate Sherwood's cello which occasionally broke through.
"Too loud" could be heard all around between numbers. Others, though, cheered and stamped the band's great rhythms and the easy harmonies of Julia Deans, Jon Toogood and Shayne Carter, along with drummer Steve Bremner who wrote the arrangements for La Vida.
Then, towards the end of the first set came Short Change, a quieter, slower number featuring a duet by Deans and Carter. The driving rhythms were enhanced by expressive, staccato strings and suddenly, yes, it worked. It all came together beautifully. This carried on to the next song, Deans and Toogood's duet of Anika Moa's gentle Sleep Me Tight, with lovely La Vida accompaniment.
La Vida seemed to relax and ramp up their volume after the interval and mostly held their own despite more loud, head-banging moments. The Adults were all class, too. Led by the effervescent Toogood, the rapport with their audience and many obvious fans made it impossible to resist the infectious vibes, smooth grooves, and driving beat.
A second-set collaborative highlight was the powerful, hypnotic, almost surreal beat of Please Wake Up. Superb stuff.
This alliance was always going to be a challenge with such a mix of genres and audience. Although it looked shaky early on, the challenge was well met and as patrons left the most-heard comment was "Brilliant - loved it". Amen to that.
- © Fairfax NZ News