|Project Adorno Reviews - The good, the bad, the indifferent...|
Potter in the Present Tense
Old Hall hotel has been run by Potters for over half a century, therefore
was is it a coincidence that Projectadorno were elected to perform their
work on the renowned late TV dramatist, playwright and author in the
Underground Venue of this hotel?
is a double act, named after the German philosopher Theodore Adorno, Which
reflects the intellectual and thorough investigation that forms the bulk
of their creation. The audience of 18, admired this production by two
young men, armed with guitars, plus a background of a sepia PowerPoint
presentation and voiceovers, that traced the short life and talented works
of Dennis Potter.
story was told in full circle, from Potter’s humble beginnings as the
son of a coalminer through his brilliance that escalated Potter’s rise
to fame, and untimely death at the age of 59. Then back to the beginning,
which emphasised the “Rags to Riches” determination of that remarkable
presentation was enhanced by the lyrics and background voiceovers, that
accompanied the visual performance, ranging from Potters start in life, in
the New Forest, via a short spell in London, to his final employment as a
Civil Servant in the Treasury, which soon ended due to his extensive and
talented productions in the media and as a profligate author.
a restriction of copywrite, the entire production had to be researched by
the Adorno duo. Not only did they compose the lyrics, in blank verse, and
spoken word, charting Potter’s humble beginnings to international fame,
but they also, located and reproduced visual reproductions of the
buildings and the milestones of Potter’s short life.
only criticism is that they sometimes have difficulty hitting the right
vocal notes but their talent and enthusiasm shone through. Adorno have to
be admired by their tenacity and thorough research, thereby generating a
unique and very enjoyable nostalgic work.
two guys who make up Project Adorno present a multi-media experience here,
with many of their own lively and catchy songs, super 8 video and original
interview pieces. We see places relating to the life of Derek Jarman, who
in his life was regarded as the enfant terrible of British film. We see
early photos and scenes, a good deal of his final home in Dungeness,
reference to Blue, his final film, and even shots of some of that glorious
troop, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,
when Derek was consecrated as Saint Derek of Dungeness.
his time, Derek was a ground-breaking gay film maker, and his mock-Roman
romp, Sebastiane, with its flagrant semi, was a hot ticket in the
relatively innocent days in which it appeared. Later work, such as
Caravaggio and The War Requiem, was more serious, but we see him here
still being something of a fun boy at social gatherings. Then there are
the hospital days as AIDS took it’s toll.
you see this show you will discover fresh aspects of Jarman, hear some
interesting things by and about him spoken by these guys, plus a good deal
of entertaining and thought-provoking music.
Adorno: 15 Electro-Pop Vaudeville Greats
Buxton Fringe Review 2013
you have been to the Fringe before, the chances are you have seen these
chaps. Billed as a 'retrospective recital featuring 15 favourite moments
plucked from 15 years of live performance' this show is in effect a 'best
of' Fringe regulars Project Adorno. Their staple is quirky, eccentric
tunes conveyed in an idiosyncratic style on a variety of instruments
including the infamous Stylophone!
night's show was culled from several of their earlier efforts and on the
whole it was an enjoyable escapade. Songs about and inspired by early
computing (ZX Spectrum vs Commodore 64), London's missing rivers and
office working were just some of the themes. My favourite was the one
about Rene Magritte, but I'm a sucker for all things Magritte! The songs
were as promised, electro-pop with a touch of whimsy. I'm sure you'll be
able to spot their heroes in the pop world, but despite this many of the
songs were undeniably Project Adorno.
I have a criticism, it is that after all the years and shows, Russell
still finds it hard to carry a tune or keep time. That, however, is
perhaps part of their charm. Plucky amateurs who give it their best shot
and aren't put off by the occasional spot of bad press.
duo have been working together for a long time now, and it's fair to say
they aren't likely to get that 15 mins of fame, but I think they can be
famous for 15 people if you get along to their next show before we say
goodbye to Underground Venues in its present arrangement.
Adorno’s Record Collection
Adorno is a double act after the philosopher Theodor Adorno. This name
reflects their intellectual curiosity and their love of art that forms the
bulk of the topics in the songs that they perform. In
addition to performing original numbers they dig through their
record collection and express the curiosity of music about cricket (one of
the vinyl in their collection being ‘The Best of Test Match Special’)
and their nerdy comic obsessions and other forgotten cultural relics of
our society are dug out of their
suitcase and displayed on stage. Their act rests on a spoof performance
that embodies the oddest in society similar to what Alan Partridge has
done so well in mocking middle Englanders for their quirky obsessions and
duo appear, dressed in suits and T-shirts, on a stage filled with props,
including a guitar and a power point projector which they use to accompany
their bizarre songs and goofy dancing. Their performance could be modern
art, if its function is to test the boundaries of what is considered
acceptable and ‘cool’ - a big middle finger up to all those concerned
with how they fit in. Perhaps this is what is most interesting about them.
highlight of the show comes as they close with a song about the National
Trust. They talk about coming of age and how camping at Reading and
Glastonbury has become a chore and, as they have become older, the
national trust is what defines them now. It is humorous, imaginative, and
manages to fuse Ian Dury and the Blockheads and Madness into their sound.
Their quirkiness is fitting for the Fringe, however, they lack musicality
which distracts from the lyrics which are often very funny.
Adorno: Pop Songs & Pie Charts
The most disappointing part of this performance was the sad lack of
an audience, only three others enjoyed an hour of giggles and tapping feet
to the geeky words and beats of this talented duo. Gloriously entitled
Project Adorno, sharp-suited Praveen Manghani and Russell Thompson treated
us to the lovechild of The Human League and Radio Four's Shipping
They helped us to understand how popular culture is something to be
celebrated, embraced, ridiculed and rejected in equal measure with their
own rock operas, ballads and electro-pop synth riffs, with the occasional
acoustic guitar, Rolf Harris Stylophone, video screening, Powerpoint
presentation and much-loved pie charts.
Cleverly woven lyrics answered difficult questions like:
do Formula One drivers use SATNAV?; and
what is the best way to fold a map?; and
is there a Lonely Planet book on planets; and
exactly where was Marillion's first gig?
Fondly remembered memories are brought clearly to life with
throbbing back-beats and risky rhyming (just how do words like appealing
and cup of Darjeeling find their way into the verse of a song?).
Constantly developing their performance, they look forward to a
time when the iPhone rules the world and look back to The Eighties when
"the 1990s stretched out like a long line of hills that I'm reluctant
to climb." Love songs and rock'n'roll numbers collide in perfectly
constructed symmetry with Professor Stephen Hawking guesting on lead
vocals and a Rubik's Cube on drums.
It is clever poppy stuff and nothing is immune from comment:
ranging from the demise of library stamping instruments to politics to
Syntax Error messages to aging all the way to death itself (and the bit
between the last two when you might want to join the National Trust!).
If you want to enjoy a show that encompasses the true spirit of the
Fringe, then pop along. Remember not to eat too many of them pies though!
Adorno’s Top Ten of Popular Culture
From The Cutting Room Floor
Project Adorno and Steve Lake
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Aug 2008
Performance poetry is confusing. It blurs the line between writing and performance and leaves the audience wondering what is real and what isn't. It felt like Project Adorno were joking when they sang "I feel fantastic, despite the greenhouse gases playing on my mind", but with the dry humour of their Ministry of the Mundane, they could be deadly serious. Steve Lake's piece was more of a plot-driven story with a real film noir feel, but still the fusion of electro-poetry-music-film makes for an experience that bombards the senses. To be honest, I can't begin to tell you whether this was good or bad - it was interesting, I decided, after an hour of reflection. tw rating: 3/5 Rhiannon Smith
From the Cutting Room Floor
|Tales From the Cutting Room Floor
Project Adorno & Steve Lake
Buxton Festival Fringe July 2008
production is more confident than ever and stronger at the bass end than
on previous recordings. As good as it is though, one can imagine what a
craftsman like The The’s Matt Johnson would do with this material, if
they could persuade him in the producers chair.
Here we have an album
that pulls off the rare trick of being both original and accessible.
|The London Years
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Aug 2007
You have to kiss a lot of frogs to get to the princes in this show. It's all rather earnest, bed-sitter fare, except there are backing tracks, celebrity voice-overs and on-screen illustrations rather than merely acoustic guitar accompaniment. A trainspotterly presentation and some (presumably) ironic disinherited-uncle-at-wedding dancing doesn't help. However, things pick up with a less self-conscious and quite catchy treatise on the M25 and a final two celebrations of London past and present end the show on a comparative high.
Songs 4 Screensavers
Buxton Festival Fringe July 2006
The Fringe welcomes Project Adorno's latest outburst of songs from the world of the office. Not The Office but a close relation.
the tone with a Leonard Cohen song (don't let that put you off), the boys
soon get into their stride with a collection of songs of office politics,
post it notes and revenge. A sly, often quirky take on some of the things
that have often driven this reviewer to distraction - for example job
descriptions. Find them helpfully translated here by the Baddiel &
Skinner of this year's Fringe. They do mention Essex, but don't hold it
tunes reminiscent of the early Pet Shop Boys, Yazoo and ABBA your toe will
tap and your fingers . . . well I'll leave that up to you. Pop inside and
take a chance on these chaps.
Electro Pop Heroes
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Aug 2005
Germaine watch out!
A truly bizarre experience in the company of two talented but odd individuals. They write idiosyncratic songs and perform them with brio to a recorded backing track. They veer between enthusiastic amateurs and faux-naif geniuses but you must see them yourself to make up your own mind. Having seen them before I must report that the omission of “library library” was a shame but “Love song for Davros” more than made up for this. Keep it up the ‘Dorno. Reviewer: Hal Bakanak
Who was the best Dr
Who? Did Salvador Dali do housework? What would happen if Picasso was a
cockney? These are some of the many hypothetical questions addressed by
Electro Pop group, Project Adorno. Wonderfully silly and exceptionally
geeky, this is a very weird, but enjoyable 45minutes of 80s grooves
dedicated to the likes of “professional feminist” Germaine Greer.
There is, however, an air of the tragic about this performance: the two
band members are just a little too old to be strutting around
the stage. Or perhaps this is what makes the whole act all so
amusing…I did enjoy their dancing. Oh, and in case you were wondering,
Salvador Dali does NOT do the washing up. 3/5 (LC)
Electro Pop Heroes
Buxton Festival Fringe July 2005
Dr Dewey Decimal in the House of Vaudeville
Buxton Festival Fringe July 2003
What are those numbers on the spines of books in the county library? Yes! They’re Melvil Dewey’s decimal book catalogue system. And –wow!- here is Melvil himself in crimson dressing gown, desert boots and elongated stove pipe hat partnered by a real librarian with a guitar to sing a cerebral song about his incomparable system followed by songs revealing the secret vocabulary of librarians, a list of famous librarians and the delights of libraries in somewhere called Essex..
Dr Dewey Decimal in the House of Vaudeville
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Aug 2003
A show for librarians (and other people too if they're interested) in the style of a holiday camp cabaret, consisting of two men in funny hats singing songs to pre-recorded 80s style electronic music. Ridiculous certainly, entertaining perhaps, funny occasionally. Interesting from the points of trivia it brought up such as the famous people who have worked as librarians including J. Edgar Hoover and Benjamin Franklin. SK
Beat Bedsit Benefit – Sanctuary Café, Brighton Nov 2003
Live Review (extract)
came Project Adorno and their wholesale theft of the evening. I think it
was the second best Project gig I've been lucky enough to witness (beaten
only by their performance in Frome on the 2002 Beat Bedsit tour).
Unusually tight and together, they looked like they knew exactly what they
were doing from the beginning to the end. Some fantastic new tunes were
aired, the one that has stuck in my head being about Pablo Picasso and his
hat. For those who might not know, Project Adorno are a two piece (Praveen
and Russell) who perform songs and poetry about such topics as Doctor Who,
libraries and Salvador Dali's hatred of washing up to a background of
electronic music, usually played from minidisk but occasionally (and
increasingly I'm pleased to note) supplemented by Praveen on the acoustic
guitar. Both handle the vocals, Praveen handles the music and Russell
dances like a man only loosely in control of his limbs and who gave up on
rhythm at the age of three. On paper the whole thing should be a disaster.
But instead it's magical. It often takes a while for an audience to get
their heads around Project Adorno (you can see them wondering whether to
laugh or flee) but tonight everybody loves it from the off. All power to
their elbows: they're fabulous. Buy their records.
Record Collector Magazine 2001
A stunning five-track exercise in electronic beat poetry, “PA/CD” is less a venture into an area bordered by Mark Astronaut and John Cooper-Clarke than those rapid-fire vers libre readings accompanied by jazz that were prevalent in bohemian circles in the early ‘60s. Have times changed so much that experimental works such as this have no place? Fortunately, the answer is a resounding no.
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