Joep Beving @ The Workshop, Adelaide 12/3/2020

At the commencement of the concert, Joep Beving gives a silent wave to the seated audience, sits at an upright piano from which part of the wooden case has been removed to expose the hammer mechanisms and then begins a piece in the style of minimalism that is a good indication of what he will be playing during the concert that follows. The audience is silent apart from the occasional cough and the slightly audible air-conditioning is actually not that distracting, providing an ambience like tape hiss.

After this first piece, following a gracious applause, Joep turns to the audience and thanks them for being here, shading his eyes and adding, “I can absolutely not see you”. This is the last concert of the Australian tour and he jokes that it should be good because he “did some practice”. In an unspoken acknowledgement that his work may be somewhat unfamiliar to some he provides some background regarding finding an old piano at this grandmother’s house and being inspired to create the music that lead to him to be playing a concert here tonight. He sets the ground rules by asking the audience to refrain from applauding between songs and tell us that when he turns away from the piano to face the audience this is when it is okay to clap. With the housekeeping out of the way, he takes off his jacket and comments, “Let’s do this. I’ll talk to you guys later”.

Only a few songs are preceded by introductions and the set generally consists of unbroken sequences of songs similar to a classical recital. The first song that he does introduce is Sleeping Lotus, a song written for his daughter about the world she will have to face. Another is The Light She Brings, written for his girlfriend after she told him, “Stop being so grumpy and have a conversation with the piano”. One piece, Kawakaari sounds like the Love Theme from Twin Peaks reimagined. 

Joep informs us that while his first album and second albums (Solipsism and Prehension) were intimate solopiano and he was “left in his own little word”, his third Henosis was “a journey into the cosmos” and a closing chapter to the trilogy.  After he performs a sequence of songs from this album ending with an effect that produces a ghostly reverbed sound to his playing, he comments that hopes to return with strings and other musicians.

The concert comes to an end following Joep’s introduction to For Steven, a song written as a tribute to and in honour of a friend and leads into a preannounced encore without him leaving the stage. This final piece is Hanging D during which he chops away at the keyboard and this is his most avant garde and the loudest that heplays tonight. This was a literal wakeup call for those in the audience who had less endurance than others and who were only expecting the advertised seventy five minutes and not the additional half hour we were treated to.  It is possible that some of the audience may have been less than happy with the concert finishing around quarter to midnight but I think that given some reflection on the opportunity to see and hear more Joep Beving they will agree that was well worth it.

Adelaide Festival Review By Jason Leigh