Rebel, Hastings New Zealand, 2022


27th October 2022
ToiToi, Hastings, New Zealand.

Review by Rob Harbers. Photography by Tim Whittaker.

In a feat of genre-bending the like of which has not been seen for a long while, Australia’s Highwire Entertainment have presented their “glam-rock circus tribute to David Bowie” to the Hawkes Bay Arts Festival. One that highlights the music in amazing style, but is so much more than that-an entertainment spectacle that blends highwire aerobatics, astounding lighting, juggling (!) and astonishing musicianship to produce something truly new and novel.

Opening proceedings in fine style was “Suffragette City”, which got the crowd suitably amped for what was to come. “Space Oddity” introduced the circus element, with the performer last seen playing bass suddenly performing aerobatic feats on the aerial silks, drawing gasps from the audience. “Cat People” was accompanied by a routine on the cyr wheel, while “Hallo Spaceboy”’s juggling routine was a spectacle of light and rhythm all of its own. An interesting interlude that held the attention was that performed on the head trapeze, and involved the playing of a ukulele. While upside down. Balancing on his head! Tell me where you’ve seen that at any kind of music show before!!

One of the most amazing aspects of this production was the fact that the musicians were also the circus performers, switching from playing instruments one minute to performing elaborate displays of skill the next. The keyboard player who juggles! The guitarist who juggles and performs on the trapeze and on the swing pole!! The bass player who juggles and performs routines on aerial silks and with rings and also practices Adagio!!! Absolutely mind-blowing stuff indeed…

The fact of this playing to an almost full house is an indication of the anticipation it inspired, and that anticipation was fully realised and much more beside, as the amazingly talented troupe both brought to life and paid tribute to the music of the master, in a way no others have (to my knowledge, at least).

Is it theatre ? Yes
Is it circus ? Yes
Is it entertainment? Absolutely!
Is it Rock’n’Roll? Yes
Is it genocide..? Thankfully, no! (A little test for who the true Bowie fans are there!)
Is it a truly stunning and diverse production, worthy of the widest possible audience, and a tribute to the inspiration of the Festival in including in the programme? You know it is!

If you see this playing anywhere near you, ffs go to it – you’ll be entertained, you’ll be tempted to dance, you’ll be amazed, you’ll be blown away!

Were you there at ToiToi for this great Hawkes Bay Arts Festival show? Or have you seen Highwire Entertainment perform live somewhere else before? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Note: Ambient Light was provided passes to review and photograph this concert. As always, this has not influenced the review in any way and the opinions expressed are those of Ambient Light’s only. This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase a product using an affiliate link, Ambient Light will automatically receive a small commission at no cost to you.

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