Australian audiences are used to seeing the three members of Tripod (Scod, Yon and Gatesy) commanding a venue as a small ensemble, with their quick-fire wit and tight three-part harmonies. This year marks their 20th in the business of musical comedy, making them probably Australia’s most successful comedy band of the last two decades.
But seeing them front the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra is an almost surreal experience: the usually jeans-and-t-shirt trio in their white ties and tails, supported by 55 extraordinary musicians.
This Gaming Life premiered in Melbourne in 2015 with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and is a concert of original songs about Tripod’s love for (and addiction to) video games. Now it’s made its way to Adelaide, courtesy of the cabaret festival; it’s a slightly left-of-centre choice, but a perfect fit.
The audience learns about Gatesy’s rather unusual relationship with his characters, Yon’s obsession with games with guns, and Scod’s dangerous addiction (and the break-up of his gaming bromance).
The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Austin Wintory, one of the foremost composers of video game scores. In 2013, he was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for his work on Journey (the first ever Grammy nomination for a video game).
While the music, written by Tripod, is surprisingly varied and as immediately memorable and melodious as we’ve come to expect, it’s Wintory’s lush orchestrations which make the concert so engaging. He certainly knows how to put a full orchestra to effective use.
Although the references are broad enough that anybody is able to understand the gist of the songs, I’m sure you’d get more out of the concert if you had some understanding of gaming culture. But it has a somewhat educational element: we even get to learn about the unusual issues involving character design currently facing the games industry (no matter the character, they’re bound to have a “smoking body”).
As a final treat, Tripod treated the audience to the murder ballads they recorded with Wintory for the blockbuster game Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Twenty years after their formation, Tripod continues to reach massive audiences, whether it be on their concert tours or in the virtual world of a video game.
This Gaming Life played for one night only at the Adelaide Festival Theatre on Saturday, June 11.