The Adelaide Fringe Festival 2019 kicked off in spectacular fashion with its official opening on Friday 15 February 2019. With the Garden of Unearthly Delights already abuzz before nightfall, the very first show in the delightful Fortuna Spielgeltent commenced late amid some minor technical difficulties.
Jazz trio Elixir, featuring the incomparable Katie Noonan on vocals, Zac Hurren on soprano saxophone and Adelaide’s own adopted New Zealander Cameron Deyell on guitar, took to the nearly bare stage on the first leg of their Gratitude and Grief tour. Gratitude and Grief is Elixir’s third album created in collaboration with Australian artist and poet Michael Leunig and features a mixture of spoken-word poetry and sublime music and vocals. While Adelaide was not graced with Leunig’s presence on Friday night Noonan, Hurren and Deyell ensured it didn’t matter by producing a tight, heartfelt and thoroughly enjoyable hour of entertainment.
Opening with La-La Land Noonan’s angelic vocals had everyone mesmerised from the second she opened her mouth. The operatically trained singer commanded the stage from the get-go not only with her vocals but her infectious personality. Hurren and Deyell were certainly not left in her wake, holding their own and then some with each poem performed.
Elixir traversed through Gratitude and Grief in the order it was created almost in its entirety with only one poem, Let It Ring, omitted likely due to time constraints, a common hindrance at the Fringe. The audience was treated to humour, candour, beauty, storytelling, spoken-word poetry and transcendent music, vocals and lyrics. The three artists demonstrated mutual respect and comradery with each that was wonderful to witness. Noonan and husband Hurren’s loving glances at each other were representative of their bond and served to elevate the performance. Having performed together for over twenty years under the guise of Elixir their heightened awareness of each other and their shared passion for music guaranteed a platinum level product from start to finish. And they delivered.
Adelaide may have missed out on the full-scale Gratitude and Grief production being delivered to other states across Australia, but what we did receive was an intimate look into the earnest sentiments of Elixir and Leuing. That, in my eyes, is something extraordinary unto itself.
Fringe Review by Anita Kertes