By Sam Jeffery
Artist: Strike percussion perform Elemental
Date / Venue: Thursday May 30th, Q Theatre, Auckland
The Q Theatre this week played host to thunderous percussion band Strike, and their Elemental show. As something of a first-timer to this genre of musical performance I felt a minor skepticism around how percussion could keep an audience captivated for an hour and a half, but any doubts were well and truly cast aside amid a mesmeric performance of force, intrigue and great skill.
Upon entry to the show earplugs were available for the masses in attendance, and this should give a strong indication as to the level of noise generated by the Strike performers. Opening with a rumbling drum ensemble and wielding flaming drum beaters the tone was set for an evening of immense musical power, intertwined with no shortage of skill and subtlety.
As the lights dimmed between acts the sense of intrigue and anticipation built. Glockenspiels and xylophones teamed up (with each player masterfully handling four mallets each) to jangle cheekily, before the decibel-pumping drums and cymbals roared back at them and created an unexpectedly precise synergy.
Eerie and haunting movements involving gongs and wavy metals dipped in water almost defied musical logic; the deeper the metals were dunked the more warped the sound - and it all worked marvelously.
One set even left all drums aside and involved only the three performers, like ancient warriors, and a variety of sticks that were whirled around as if in battle. A combination of swishing and breathing, accompanied by the sporadic bell tolling, made for a remarkable experience.
Elements of humour ensured a thoroughly eclectic show, with a marching band type segment allowing the hitherto intense showman to descend into broad grins. Coupled with a lighthearted demonstration on how steel pipes are best utilised rhythmically (with some audience participation), and a truly brilliant and tightly choreographed dance section, and those in the theatre were treated to a full range of genres.
By the time the deafening finale, involving all 5 performers and pretty much every instrument, had crashed to a climax the crowd had been treated to something unique and very special. There was just time for an encore that featured, and this is no exaggeration, simply cylindrical tubes, a lit flame and some lighter fluid.
Musical flamethrowers seemed only right to end a performance that left the audience utterly wowed, and slightly deafer.