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David Bridie
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DAVID BRIDIE
ACT OF FREE CHOICE


Act of Free Choice - David Bridie, Tivoli Theatre, Brisbane

Leave the audience spellbound? Piece of cake!

After 16 years making music in various guises, David Bridie suddenly finds himself flavour of the month, his name spoken in reverential tones by those in the know. There is not so much a buzz as a hum surrounding the Melbournian singer songwriter-producer whose solo debut album Act of Free Choice is being acclaimed as a masterpiece. Translating its delicately sculptured sound scapes to the stage was always going to be a challenge. But Bridie has gone one step further; creating an intoxicating sensory experience that transcends music. To call it a concert hardly seems adequate.

For 90 minutes the 500 people present at Brisbane's lush but underused Tivoli Theatre for the opening show of his national tour were transported. The lighting alone was a work of art. Bridie has distilled his experience as a performer, producer and soundtrack composer into a cinematic package, the visual sensibilities gained from his film work adding another dimension to both his studio and stage work.

Film had a strong presence in the performance, with Bridie and his band silhouetted extras for much of the show as images by young auteurs were projected onto the backdrop. The presence of a solitary dancer in the aisle throughout the sit-down affair almost seemed choreographed.

Bridie describes his music as organica, a stripped back electronica that shares some common ground with Endorphin and Moby, without venturing into the well- trodden territory of dance, trance and trip hop. Near darkness greeted the foreboding opener Sad, which rose seamlessly into the insistent Dive and descended again into Breath followed by the album's first "hit" The Koran, The Ghan and a Yarn which is more an indicator of the album's quality than a standout single in the traditional sense.

The three piece backing band, supplemented by sequencers and surround sound added a robustness to the arrangements on the album. The subtlety of guitarist, Phil Wales and drummer, Michael Barker was a highlight. Only The Koran seemed slightly hurried.

Midway through the set Bridie played Dare Not Say a Word from his band Not Drowning Waving, which evoked memories of all the "shithouse venues" he had played to get here. He also reprised a track from his days in the pop act My Friend The Chocolate Cake, which he hinted were not yet over.

He finally stepped from the shadows for the rumbling Float, which was followed by The Deserters, a short haunting song that drew the biggest reaction from the spellbound crowd. Kerosene, which he dedicated to Bronwyn Bishop and Salt (I Don't Want to Go No Further) were other standouts.

The mournful Last Great Magician was the highlight of a somber encore which left many in a dazed state of bliss as they drifted out of the venue.

The world is ready for you now, Mr. Bridie.

SHANE BRADY
The Australian - Monday 26th June, Artsbeat Music