Grievous Angel is a theatrical concert. This is a new genre for me and from the palpable uncertainly in the theatre – I knew I wasn’t alone.
The concert feel makes us want to chat and drink and bop along, the fact we were sitting in a theatre and Jordie Lane (Playing Gram Parsons) monologues emotionally throughout the show leads us to believe we’re seeing theatre where, in Australia, we sit tight and laugh and clap in all the right places.
If you are in it for the music? DO IT.The musicians are the ones who have been touring with the show in the US and they are tight. If you’ve never heard a pedal steel being played before it is in Grievous Angel and it is beautiful.
If you love Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris and the music they played together, Jordie Lane and Clare Reynolds do a fabulous job of impersonating their sounds and making their harmonies soar. I was also impressed with Lane’s skills on the guitar and with Reynolds hopping on the keyboard. Most of this music was new to me but the harmonies in Elvis cover That’s Alright Mama, She and the funky beat and awesome solos in Lonesome Whistle were absolute highlights.
If you are in it for the history of Parsons? See it. Lane plays Parsons throughout and talks about his life and all of his crazy connections in the music industry- including his friendship with Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones. He also talks about his family life and his travels – who knew he went to Harvard?! It is all tied together cleverly with Lane’s outfit – an Elvis-esque white suit with bright pictures all over it, each picture representative of moments in his life.
If you are in it for a conventional ‘night at the theatre’, this is probably not for you. The acting is just not up to par with the music. I would love to have been transported to the 70s, but the only people who took me there were Lane and Reynolds. The band were wearing modern clothes and hairstyles, mostly ignoring the action on stage. I’m sure Parsons band would have appeared to be listening and reacting throughout the gig, not just twice with words when scripted. If they really wanted to commit to transporting us, why not use some vintage 70s gear and set pieces?
I feel like this isn’t yet theatrical, but the concert is great. The script can be so engaging at times but some stronger, clearer acting direction would help the dramatic element immensely.
See this show for the 22 awesome songs, the six awesome musicians and the Grievous Angel, Gram Parsons.