Week 1 Fringe Award for Best Music Act
Still Talking ‘Bout a Revolution
Arts Theatre
Saturday, 19 February 2022

A Revolution That Needs to be Talked About

Whenever someone talks to me about Tracy Chapman, my memory immediately turns to her stunning breakthrough performance at Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday concert at Wembley Stadium in 1988.

It was a revelation. Relatively unknown at the time and appearing almost waiflike on stage it was riveting to watch the Wembley crowd embrace her powerful words and music. We were witness to the arrival of a compelling performer.

You got a fast car
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Any place is better
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we’ll make something
Me, myself, I got nothing to prove

– Tracy Chapman, Fast Car

For 11 year old Nancy Bates, at the time under guardianship in NSW, the impact on listening to Fast Car for the first time was profound, sparking a lifelong interest in the American singer.

Still Talkin’ Bout a Revolution is the second Fringe outing that Adelaide-based singer songwriter and proud Barkindij woman, Nancy Bates has produced to celebrate and share the power that resonates in the music of Tracy Chapman, building upon her successful 2021 Fringe show Talkin’ Bout a Revolution.

Photo by Ben Searcy

The influence of Chapman on Bates’ music resonates deeply, with her own body of work also addressing similar socially active topics such as race relations, growing up poor, black and in care, the impact of domestic violence and caring for Mother Earth. It is no surprise that Bates was a finalist in the 2021 Australian Women in Music Humanitarian Award.

Still Talkin’ Bout a Revolution reminds us that these are universal themes that we all need to address and consider.

In focusing and reminding us of the power and universality of Chapman’s songs enables Bates’ to pay homage to her inspiration, wonderfully supported by Dave McEvoy (piano), Bec Freeman (bass), Kyrie Anderson (drums) and Tom Kneebone (guitar).

Bates’ passion for Chapman’s music and her own belief that change needs to happen permeates throughout the show making the atmosphere in the Arts Theatre seem more akin to a church revival meeting than a concert. The sense of a desire for change was palpable among the audience, you can’t help but embrace the excitement and vision that Bates was sharing. We weren’t not just Still Talkin’ Bout a Revolution here, the discussion was that the revolution needs to occur and now. The time for talk is over.

As Bates tells the audience – Tonight for me is about reactivating OUR privilege.

A clear sign of change in the air was the inclusion of Auslan interpreters in the production to the delight of the deaf members of the audience. The joy on their faces as they were able to fully participate in the show through interpreted lyrics was a sheer highlight of the night. Bates is once again leading the charge for more inclusivity in performance, and I only hope more artists around Adelaide join her to incorporate Auslan as part of their shows. Now what a world would that make.

From Fast Car, we moved into the issue of gun control and its impact on race relations with Bang Bang Bang, while the show’s theme of rising up was further reflected upon with She’s Got A Ticket. On a softer side Give Me One Reason, provides the hopeful reminder that love is still all around before we come to the crescendo of the night with the still all powerful Talkin About a Revolution. A message just as relevant in 2022 as it was in 1988.

As she had done in 2021, Bates once again passionately reminds us of the power of Tracy Chapman. We need to listen to the music and words of both these remarkable artists and look at how we can embrace the change that needs to come.

With one show remaining on Wednesday, 16th of March, this is a performance that should not be missed.

– Fontella Koleff | Photos by Ben Searcy

Still Talkin’ About A Revolution
Arts Theatre, 59 Angas St, Adelaide – Wednesday, 16 March at 8pm

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