Rhian Sheehan A QUIET DIVIDE

Theatre Royal, 78 Rutherford Street, Nelson

20/10/2018 - 21/10/2018

Nelson Arts Festival 2018

Production Details

Transforming the Theatre Royal into a sublime sound and light venue, composer Rhian Sheehan delivers a truly emotive and immersive audio-visual show, showcasing his brand new album A Quiet Divide, as well as work from his previous acclaimed albums.

Featuring a full band, a local string section and a dream-like montage of captivating visuals, time-lapse, portraits, animations, landscapes and starscapes, Rhian Sheehan creates a breath-taking son et lumière.

Originally from Nelson, Sheehan’s award-winning compositions have featured on screens around the world, including the BBC, Netflix, HBO, the US Super Bowl and The Academy Awards, while his albums have amassed over 30 million streams on Spotify alone.

“…a stunning show.”SIMON SWEETMAN

“… a ‘wish you were there’ moment, where the audience is so mesmerised you could hear a pin drop.”★★★★★ SUNDAY STAR TIMES

WINNER – Best Soundrack, Fiske Fulldome Film Festival (2015)

WINNER – Best Original Score, Qantas Film & Television Awards (2010)

New album A Quiet Divide out October 5. Pre-order the limited edition 2 LP 180 gram white vinyl now from LOOP.

Sat 20 & Sun 21 October 2018
FULL $49 | UNDER 19 $25
SENIOR $44 | GROUP OF 6+ $44pp
Plus TicketDirect Service Fee

Theatre , Spectacle , Music ,

1 hr 55 min

An ever-lasting gob-stopper

Review by Daniel Allan 21st Oct 2018

Kudos to the Nelson Arts Festival programmers for pinning down the enigmatic Rhian Sheehan for a rare and overdue homecoming as part of this year’s festival. The prodigious composer and multi-instrumentalist pulls out all the stops for this generous and mesmerising concert, which features thirteen musicians (at this reviewer’s count) on stage, as well as three technical operators and numerous other production helpers, including the might of Weta Digital. The enraptured crowd certainly gets value for money.

Three floor-to-ceiling gauzes provide the fore-drop for a continuous programme of projected visuals, tailored for each track. Behind them a group of locally sourced string players assemble and tune, and without fanfare – or even introduction – the unassuming Mr Sheehan takes his place, initially behind some heavily affected guitar, for the first track of the evening. Before our eyes, and quite arrestingly, the three gauzes become three Escher patterns of communism-red triangles, morphing and cascading to the stimulus of the highly engineered sounds.

On they creep, pianists, bassists, drummers, and synth-masters, until there are enough musos for a benefit concert beyond the proscenium’s laser-lit arch. Track two engulfes us with a Michael Nyman-esque piece, and pointillist abstractions on the screens evolve into human figures in movement. In the third, a pair of dancers appears in thrall to a beautifully lilting melody.

Then it kicks up a gear as the drum-kit gets involved for the trip-hoppy track Soma Dreams. A humpback whale crosses paths with a water nymph and her playful school of fish in some simply stunning animations. Other highlights include a Blade Runner-style techno track with throbbing oblongs of colour, and a rock-infused moonrise.

Sheehan references many influences and styles within his music but it is all of a certain mode: non-lyrical, soaring, swelling and graceful. At its best it could be a soundtrack that transforms the emotional climax of a film into an ugly-cry on the couch. Too many middling moments and it starts to sound like the stuff you’re half aware of as your international flight lands.

They start and finish but many tracks feel like only half a song, and lack shape. Without sign-posting in the way of a programme, titles or patter, the audience are often unsure when to clap. On it goes, perhaps a bit too long.

When the second half commences with the anguish of oil fires it feels like we might soon have to fetch our overhead luggage but it finds its groove again. As the beats get more dancey, a lone raver in Row E starts to cut some shapes with her arms, creating some extra spectacle for those behind her.

Musically, the concert ends both halves with highlights in the form of soaring, percussion heavy all-ins. At the conclusion, Sheehan finally strings a sentence or two together to thank his amazing team and there is a robust – if not quite uniformly standing – ovation.

The uncharitable might describe it as ‘elevator music’ but if so then this concert is Willy Wonka’s great glass elevator, smashing through the ceiling. It is slick and skilful sonic engineering. Mr Sheehan has bought Nelson back an ever-lasting gob-stopper tonight, and for that he deserves our utmost respect.


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