We Will Rise: Topology's Uplifting Return Concert
Topology’s We Will Rise concert last Friday night at the Princess Theatre was an evening of conversations, thought-provoking music and entertaining stories.
Tucked away amid the roaring streets of South Brisbane, the heritage-listed Princess Theatre was a space of calm, allowing us to step back in time. Built in 1888, with its high, embossed ceilings, classic bricks and stately columns, this was the perfect venue for an intimate concert.
Grandma and I arrived early enough to grab a drink and find our seats before the concert started. Topology are: John Babbage on saxophone, Christa Powell on violin, Bernard Hoey on viola, Therese Milanovic on piano and Robert Davidson on double bass. They were joined by special guest drummer Grant Collins.
The concert presented Topology’s latest album, We Will Rise, a collection of old and new tracks which speak to issues of climate disruption, crisis, and the pandemic with a voice of strength, resilience and hope.
Topology opened with a jazzy remix of Bruno Mars’ hit Uptown Funk, renamed Two-Punk Fun. The song’s instantly recognisable hooks danced in and out through Rob’s composition. Then, John’s Millennium Bug was an exploration of the fear and uncertainties in 1999 toward the new millennium.
Next, was the world premiere of Drought Stories Texas, almost seven months after they were due to perform it at QAGOMA Water Up Late in March. This work combined original music with a video story of rural farmers struggling through the drought. It was a little disjointing to try and watch the performers and the video at the same time, but the overall effect was well blended and cohesive.
Grant Collins came on stage for Tourbillon, a rhythmic piece named after a mechanical part of a watch. Grant burst into a loud, epic drum solo. Christa introduced the next piece, You May Laugh, as an experiment between the classical rhythms and metres that she was trained in, compared to John’s jazzy ones. They asked for some audience participation in this one, with half of us clapping on beats 2 and 4 and the other half clapping on 1 and 3. Grant impressively performed in multiple different time signatures at once. This fun, jaunty little tune played with the audience’s sense of beat and was followed by another of John’s compositions, Chop, Chop. As the title suggests, this was an upbeat song, which grew progressively faster.
Composer Robert Davidson often explores the melodies and sounds in spoken word. For the album title track, We Will Rise, Rob combined a rallying speech from former PM James Scullin with instrumental music. Scullin’s words from 1931, “we will rise out of our difficulty and our depression” became like the chorus of this piece. Continuing with the speeches, the next track, MLK, featured the famous words of Martin Luther King Jr, “I have a dream.” Then, to a more recent speech, with Crystal Clear and the words of Greta Thunberg. These three works offered a moment of reflection on current issues we are facing, through the lens of music.
Glare of Fire, also composed by Rob, featured Therese Milanovic on solo piano. The work was accompanied by a short clip from Topology’s first foray into theatrical storytelling, from their album ShareHouse. Therese performed with deep emotion, hammering the keys.
Then, Topology performed a composition by Bernard Hoey, One Day Gavin Stomach, a quirky, unusual piece which they certainly seemed to enjoy performing. There’s a backstory a country-mile long behind the title, but we’ll leave that for later.
Topology concluded the concert with two movements from Ten Hands: Flourish and The Right One. Ten Hands usually features all five members of Topology on the piano, but this wasn’t viable with social-distancing, so they performed the later movements instead. Flourish and The Right One were both bright, upbeat and catchy. The perfect note to end an uplifting concert.
Afterwards, there were nibblies and drinks and a chance to meet the artists in the relaxed atmosphere of the Princess Theatre hall. I spoke briefly with John and Christa. In all, We Will Rise was a great night out and a testament to the healing power of music.
More on Topology’s We Will Rise Queensland tour here.
We Will Rise is available on all digital platforms here.
TCI have 5 copies of Topology’s We Will Rise EP to giveaway! To enter the draw, email your details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a listen:
Images and audio supplied.