First, lets get one thing straight: The Sound Of Falling Stars is marvellous performance, existing in some perfect place that most creatives only ever dream of calling their own. Though, perhaps, not surprising when the creative team working here is lead by one of Australia’s most luminary and distinguished theatre directors, Robyn Archer, then left in the more than capable hands of Cameron Goodall, who here brings every fibre of these artists back into being.
It is interesting because in the first instance, you feel as though this performance could just as easily be some cheap fodder for Baby Boomers, providing a space and a time to reminisce, the soundtrack an exact replica, some bad tribute to what shaped and helped define their lives, which now in past tense, acts as a reference point for their generation. Though as the performance continues, it unfurls and gives way to material all the more contemporary and relevant to a younger audiences, having chosen to defiantly finishing with Nirvana’s anthem of the 90’s: Smells Like Teen Spirit.
From Elvis to Buddy, Jeff to Kurt its not only a sweeping and beautifully crafted performance, but also could be seen as a memento mori dedicated to these fallen stars. Both the artists story and their music are treated respectfully and with great care. The darker themes of suicide, substance abuse, life in the public eye and the immense pressure felt at the top of your game, balanced against a sense of love and admiration for these artist, as people stripped of all such things. Goodall has from start to finish, the audience in the palm of his hand. His presence and delivery, almost like magic, how he channels the subtle mannerisms of these artists is indescribable. This is not to detract at all from his ability to belt out a number, because he most certainly can, just like many great performers. But in contrast, there are few artists that can bring out those smaller details in such a way that almost steal the show completely.
Production values are brilliant, as we would expect from Archer. Choosing to strip the stage of curtains and leave exposed the black brick walls behind, the stage littered with road cases and other such things evocative of touring, recording studios and backstage dives. Intimacy is created with floor lamps and mirrors suspended above; the beams of light reflecting off these form abstract shapes which spill across both the performer and audience alike. Completing this vision is Enio Pozzebon on keyboard and George Butrumlis on accordion – this duo prove enough to underscore the performance, striking perfect balance between understatement and show-stopping.
Of any criticism to offer up, some transitions between songs and story lines do tend to be a little confusing, but with such broad scope giving rise to this performance, it’s a perfectly legitimate outcome. As music has chopped and changed between decades, generations and trends, the definition of what music is, has and continues to become all the more loose and non definitive. Regardless, there are some artist that have cut through the white noise of mediocrity, and planted some lingering thing inside of us which still remains long after they’ve died, and its works like The Sound Of Falling Stars that remind us of such magical things.