Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Street: Katie Noonan & Karin Schaupp "Songs of the Southern Skies"

What a beautiful concert this was.  Karin Schaupp played beautiful classical guitar.  Katie Noonan sang beautiful arrangements in that incredibly beautiful voice.  They both wore beautiful frocks, had beautiful cascading hair, and the stage was beautifully decorated in beautiful roses.

I'm not being sarcastic - it truly was beautiful.  But I also found it a bit too crafted, and as it went on, felt that I could have used a bit of an edge. Full disclaimer: talking to other audience members, I'm pretty sure I am completely on my own here.  Dilettante's privilege. 

Noonan's is a voice to wonder at - the second great coloratura of the week.  Absolutely flawless, controlled and truly lovely. These gentle, pure and pretty arrangements of Antipodean songs were perfectly chosen - my one regret in that regard is that I'd have loved to hear her sing Tim Finn's I Hope I Never, which was nevertheless gorgeous rendered by Schaupp's equally virtuosic solo guitar (one of several heavenly arrangements by Richard Charlton). 

The relentless beauty continued through pieces by Bic Runga, Nick Cave, Gurrumul, Vince Jones, Gotye and even Cold Chisel, plus one of Noonan's own works and newly commissioned pieces by Andrew Georg and Elena Kats-Chernin.  It's clear from the way that Noonan speaks about her material that she is genuinely passionate about the songs she and Schaupp have selected, but at times they were so perfect that I found myself standing outside the music, marvelling at the craft, rather than being drawn in.  This is in no way a criticism of wonderful performances and extraordinary talent, it really isn't. It's more like being served plate after plate of gorgeous cakes when you tend to have a savoury palate.

Noonan's between-song patter was spontaneous and totally charming, engaging the audience with candour, warmth and humour. She's very easy to love.

And I did love the final number (not counting the encore of course - for which I stamped and whistled as hard as anyone else) - the Easybeats' Friday on My Mind.  Noonan finally cut loose, which was glorious, and the rest of us got to go "La la la la la la la la LA" at the top of our voices.  Any evening where I get to go "La la la la la la la la LA" at the top of my voice is a good one for me.  And judging from the crush of fans waiting for signed CD's (I understand they sold out), "too beautiful" is hardly something to be avoided.

PS  (added 20 Oct): it's been pointed out to me that I totally failed to mention the choir of small boys who joined Noonan & Schaupp for the last song of the first bracket. They were, indeed, very sweet.

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