Lior: Love, Loss and Compassion at Adelaide Cabaret Festival

Adelaide Cabaret Festival artistic directors, Ali McGregor and Eddie Perfect, have put together an exceptional program this year. Thankfully, they have extended the traditional definition of ‘Cabaret’ to accommodate Lior’s concert-style collaboration with the Australian String Quartet in the show Love, Loss and Compassion. Excellent decision Ali and Eddie!


Having first encountered Lior more than 10 years ago at the Newcastle Town Hall (in what was, and still is, one of the most enchanting musical experiences), the prospect of melding his magical music with regaling tales was enticing. Lior wastes no time in setting the record straight, however: we’re there to hear his music, not to hear him talk. After all, Lior’s music did the talking.

The Australian String Quartet not only provided the most perfect accompaniment, but also embellished Lior’s music in exciting new ways. Songs like Gypsy Girl, Building Ships, and of course This Old Love felt both unplugged and enhanced. The surprising Radiohead cover, No Surprises, was an example of perfect interplay between the two world-class artists.

The at-capacity Dunstan Playhouse was clearly spellbound throughout. The silent appreciation of every note was counterpointed by the rapturous applause following each number. Lior joked that while the audience’s polite manner enhanced our ability to fully appreciate the music, it certainly made the various silent guitar changes extra awkward.

Indeed, Lior changed guitar after virtually every number. His solo number, Satisfied Mind, brought some blues to the evening, and Bedouin Song, a duo with ASQ cellist Sharon Grigoryan, highlighted Lior’s Middle Eastern vocal inflections.

Lior is clearly a very versatile musician. He has had his music played on both Triple J and Classic FM. His collaboration with composer Nigel Westlake, which earned them the Aria Award for best Classical Album, is perhaps one of his greatest achievements. Originally for voice and orchestra, the string quartet and voice arrangement of Sim Shalom, the opening movement of the song cycle Compassion was hauntingly beautiful, and an apt finale. Even though the audience applauded and applauded for an encore, what could possibly follow that?

While Love, Loss and Compassion may look, and sound, very different to other Adelaide Cabaret Festival performance, the pairing of Lior with the Australian String Quartet is a match made in heaven.

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