Friday, 2 December 2011

Gig review: Gurrumul

Another week, another concert it would seem...  I am at the National Theatre in Canberra again, but this time there’s a slight change of pace.  The person I’m here to see is Gurrumul.

If you are unaware, or perhaps you have been living under a rock, Gurrumul is an indigenous musician who performs in his native Yolgnu language.  He’s also blind, plays his guitar upside down and possesses one of the most unique and beautiful voices I’ve heard. 

He has become internationally renowned, and touted as one of the most original voices to come out of Australia.  In this video he performs the Police classic Every Move you Make with Sting recorded a number of years ago.  The first time I saw it, it sent shivers down my spine.

And this video is of Gurrumul's recent performance with Missy Higgins at the 2011 ARIA awards.

Again, I found the choice of venue problematic.  I’m not sure if it is poor choices by event organisers or that the National Theatre is a band venue.  I’m happy to be persuaded either way.

For this particular event it is too large, too cavernous, too hollow.  There is something so intimate about Gurrumul’s music that it invites you in on a personal level, but it just doesn’t work in such an enormous space.  Because of his disability and the fact that he doesn’t sing in English it is difficult to for the audience to connect with Gurrumul, a small figure in the distance, in the middle of the stage.  The volume of the space definitely detracts from the atmosphere.

There is, however, no way to detract from the beauty and purity of his music.  Despite the language barrier you’re able to interpret and feel the intent and emotion of a song, merely through the innocence and honesty of his music.

There is one spectacularly, amazing surprise – a special guest... Sarah Blasko – Wow!  What a combination, the soaring crescendo of Blasko’s voice is matched by the sweetness of Gurrumuls’. 

Spine chills, an awed silence, and a moment that no one will easily forget.

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