Rock Orchestra Under The Stars @ Botanic Gardens, Adelaide 16/2019

A significant joy of this time of the year is getting out into Adelaide’s beautiful parklands and gardens to celebrate music, art and nature. The perfect setting for Saturday’s Rock Orchestra concert was the Museum Lawns in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Picnic rugs, deck chairs and a crowd of old and young dotted the lawns as the record-breaking audience settled in for a glorious night of rock music with strings.

The sixteen piece ensemble was a collaboration of Adelaide rock cover band Point05 and orchestral fusion Akoustic Odyssey and they didn’t disappoint. All sensational musicians in their own right, they introduced themselves by first names and each certainly wowed their largest audience yet with hits from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and this century. From singer Zillah’s rousing cover of Evanescence’s My Immortal and Guns n’ Roses’ Sweet Child O’Mine to Ben and Eugene’s versions of Make Me Smile and Never Tear Us Apart, every musician on that stage proved their professional talent.

Tight musical timing and some beautiful arrangements of the songs were obvious in Tonight, Tonight’s introduction of flute and strings and the vocal harmonising in Sound of Silence. This was superb, with the ensemble not put off by ambulance sirens wailing during the rest/pause right at the end of the song. Other highlights of the night include drummer Hayden’s vocals and guitarist Anthony’s riff on Hotel California and a guest appearance for ACDC’s Thunderstruck. James’ saxophone solos and flute work were perfect but left me yearning for a larger wind and brass section of perhaps oboe, horns, trumpets and trombones to round out the orchestral in this group’s name.

Early songs in the set list did have some issues with feedback, pitchy vocals and the wind, but as the performers warmed up and the night’s ambience took over, these soon settled. The keys were ably mastered by Russell who gave us a taste of his Rock Orchestra Elton John tribute show playing at the Highway Inn later on during the Fringe. The string section added the orchestral element to the night and they certainly showed off their acumen in Live and Let Die. If tonight’s performance was anything to go by, then the remaining Rock Orchestra shows will be well worth the ticket. Hopefully continuing to be a staple of future Fringe Festival seasons, if you do attend a performance in the Botanic Gardens, be sure to bring your picnic rugs, arm the kids with some glow sticks and be prepared to be rocked and swayed by the magic that is Rock Orchestra.

Fringe Review By Kim Burley

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