The Devil’s Spine Band submerged audiences in its beautifully strange imaginative world for four nights during the July 2011 Galway Arts Festival. Inhabiting the Radisson Live Lounge – a cavernous clubby space – the multi-disciplinary show incorporated live improvised performance and music, a sculptural installation set, costumes and screened video. Unlike much of the populist and predictable GAF program, The Devil’s Spine Band offered innovative and unconventional performance and musical expressions contained within an astounding composition of forms and visual objects, garments and video art.

This work exemplifies the current merging of disciplines between the visual arts and other art forms typified by live art practice and much contemporary film and video. The Devil’s Spine Band are balanced on the cutting edge of new performance practice that is currently intersecting with visual art and contemporary musical composition. They are clearly unafraid to break down the traditional conventions associated with the canons of theatre in Ireland, historically oriented to text and modes of realist representation.

The two and a half hour piece subsumed realism into a non-concrete series of cultural references alluding to the American Wild West, Japanese butoh and bluegrass-rock music. This reviewer was transported back into Irish childhood Sunday afternoons watching a saturation of TV cowboy western’s, their wild expressive masculine world dissolving the ennui of the weekend. The Devil’s Spine Band effected a singular critique of this pervasive cultural influence.

The Devil’s Spine are also clearly influenced by recent body art and live art practices where performance is not a form of acting but a form of ‘being’ in front of audiences. The three performers improvised overlapping vignettes of gestures and movements that actualized this distinction. The compelling Olwen Fouéré alongside the playfully grotesque butoh dancers Gyohei Zaitsu and Maki Watanabe created mesmeric images of stunning, bizarre elegance. A woman having sex on a table with a skeleton; a whitened loin- clothed dribbling man clamping himself onto the drummer’s lap; a cross-dressed woman dangling from a noose; a white haired goddess with one breast displayed, singing a dirge...

The Devil’s Spine Band, Radisson Live Lounge, Galway Arts Festival 20th – 23rd July 2011 Courtesy The Devil’s Spine Band.




A Wild West Imaginative Space

The Devil’s Spine Band

Galway Arts Festival

20th – 23rd July 2011

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