Adelaide, Adelaide Fringe 2014

Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum

0 Comments 11 March 2014

Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum

Reviewed by Ineke Mules

It’s hard to know what to expect when you combine a lyrical singer-songwriter with an international beat-boxing sensation. But, as it turns out, Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum are a one-of-a-kind musical duo to be reckoned with.

Hailing from Melbourne and Brisbane respectively, MacDowell and Thum have already been making waves in their own genre. It’s an unlikely pairing, but nonetheless they have managed to come together and deliver an act that is at once unique, eccentric and captivating. Despite the late timeslot, it’s a full house when MacDowell and Thum enthusiastically take to the stage. MacDowell’s beautifully simple lyrics and harmonies anchor the performance, leaving Thum free to accompany him with eerily accurate phantom beats and instruments, adding a whole new dimension to the music. Over the next hour the duo showcase a diverse repertoire that ranges from upbeat original compositions to a charming rendition of Gershwin classic Summertime.

As great as MacDowell’s understated melodic vocals are, Thum is the true standout of the show; if not only for his inhuman ability to mimic an astounding variety of sounds on command. In an instant he can transport the audience anywhere in the world; be it a bass-heavy German techno club or a downtown New Orleans jazz bar, complete with virtuosic trumpet solo. At one point Thum asks the crowd to challenge him to create the sound of any scene they can think of (A witch on a broomstick / a smoking donkey / a wild-west shootout). The results are hilariously impressive and it proves to be one of the highlights of the night.

Beyond the music, MacDowell and Thum make an equally good pair as they naturally bounce off each other’s quirks. Scripted or not, the frequent banter in-between songs only adds to the overall charisma of the performance. They know how to make the most of the other’s talents and neither tries to hog the spotlight; although they each have a brief chance to show off their own solo abilities.

Regardless of what genre you ordinarily prefer, MacDowell and Thum are a truly original musical act not to be missed at this year’s Fringe.

Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum, Garden of Unearthly Delights – Le Cascadeur, March 11 to March 16


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