Adelaide Fringe 2013
A charming newcomer to the Fringe sings songs about a not so charming subject: the end of the world. Whether it’s a ballad about the rapture, raps about floods, or jaunty little melodies about viruses, Andrew Finnegan covers a range of morbid subjects with humour, style, and musical talent to burn.
Emerging from the shadows wearing a Santa hat, Andrew Finnegan sits down at the piano, and calmly – even merrily – explains that in the year 2012, on December 21st, we are all very likely to die in an apocalypse of epic proportions. Soon we are taken on a musical journey, with Finnegan waxing lyrical about dinosaurs, Noah’s floods, viruses, conspiracy theorists, the Rapture, zombies, the decline of the species because of womens’ demise, The Hunger Games, and then finally, the acknowledgement to live life to the fullest! … Right before the sirens signalling the apocalypse start whirring.
The musical numbers are definitely Finnegan’s strong point. He has a sweet yet strong voice, with a huskiness coming through on the low notes. His musicianship is also bar none, switching between the ukulele and the piano seamlessly. When he would give a brief speech about the songs’ contexts, however, on the stage, that was when the nerves started to show. There were a lot of umms, and uhs, and sometimes he would stumble over words in his sentences. Also, I couldn’t help but be distracted by his shoes – whilst the rest of his outfit was smart, classy, and hipster-ish, he was wearing scuffed up old Vans, which really threw off what was otherwise a handsome outfit.
As for the songs, although Finnegan has clearly mastered many musical styles, his decision to have four ballads in a row towards the end of the show really slowed down the pace, considering the first half of the show was so energetic. Ironically, the song that he penned about The Hunger Games was one of the bounciest of the evening, and yet he didn’t give it the benefit of context, like the others! The Hunger Games is popular, but an explanation for those few not familiar with the dystopian series of young adult novels would not have gone astray.
True, it was patchy in places, and Finnegan was at a disadvantage from the start, working with material that was dated back to last year, but he had a lot of panache. His rhyming couplets elicited quite a few giggles from the audience (my personal favourite was a verse about driving Satan into the fiery lake and then making God’s favourite cheesecake), and his song about the demise of women, which on paper appears somewhat misogynistic, was actually a tender torch song to the fairer sex.
Two other songs were stand outs. The song about viruses showed off Finnegan’s cleverest lyrics and most confident stage presence, and a medley featuring well-known songs about space travel, in the ‘aliens’ segment, gave him a chance to prove his musical talent. Europe blended into Nicki Minaj, and Nicki Minaj blended into David Bowie in the blink of an eye.
Although the ballads started to become tiring after a while, they at least managed to make the most of Finnegan’s pleasant vocals. La Boheme provided a relaxed and warm atmosphere, and the crowd could gather around the stage, in order to become more intimate with the performance.
He’s not quite on the level of Flight of the Concords or Tim Minchin just yet, but Andrew Finnegan is a talent to watch. A troubadour who tells tales about terrible things, and yet he’s such a good-natured joker that our looming demise is at least something to laugh about.