Live review: Kronos Quartet + Bryce Dessner + J.G. Thirlwell's Manorexia - Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide (04.03.13)

Thebarton Theatre hosted the award winning Kronos Quartet and J.G. Thirlwell’s Manorexia on Monday night for two hours of dramatic, spine tingling and downright awe-inspiring contemporary-classical music.

Support act, J.G. Thirlwell’s Manorexia was pure cinematic bliss, what I might imagine tumbling into a David Lynch film dream-sequence would feel like; utterly surreal. I admit I caught myself with my mouth hanging open on more than one occasion.

Layered with intricate effects and techniques, the experimental project Manorexia adds texture and spontaneity to classical chamber music with such smooth and effortless style. Brooklyn based composer Thirlwell is a successful visionary to say the least, and the musicians involved in the project are soaked with unbelievable talent.

The internationally acclaimed Kronos Quartet kept the charismatic whimsy coming; their performance was an unpredictable mix of quick-paced theatrics and slow romanticism with dark, eerie undertones.

The quartet has a lengthy and diverse repertoire; they’ve worked on film soundtracks for action flick Heat, Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, and with artists such as Tom Waits, David Bowie and Nelly Furtado. This evening, they were aided by ultra-talented indie superstar Bryce Dessner from The National on guitar, performing a piece he arranged and composed for the quartet.

Alien-like sounds were achieved with reverb pedals, mini-decks and bizarre-looking toys. This paired with spectacular strobe lighting and David Harrington’s dry humour took the audience on a wild sensory experience.

Despite a small lapse in energy towards the end of their performance where I was close to nodding off, the experience was superb, enchanting and a true explanation of the quartet’s immense success.

J.G. Thirlwell and Kronos Quartet with the help of Bryce Dessner put on a truly visceral performance, as though their instruments were extensions of their limbs and music was rushing through their veins. It was an evening of disturbingly beautiful surprises; mesmerising and unforgettable.