Adelaide Festival: Into The Bloodstream – A shining gem of the Festival

Archie Roach. Photo by James Henry.
Archie Roach. Photo by James Henry.

Into The Bloodstream is Archie Roach’s new live show and album.

It is a deeply personal and honest account of Roach’s life – and also a moving reminder of the often devastating history of Indigenous Australians, from the invasion of their land until now.

ARIA award-winning Roach is a proud representative of his people, and as an artist – a significant activist for many years.

Ranging from country to soul and blues (and everywhere in between), with a thirteen piece musical ensemble and a ten voice (male and female) gospel choir – this heartfelt and beautiful show covers much ground.

Assisted by striking back-drop imagery the show pays tribute to land and country – and makes strong and poignant references to the importance and meaning of the land to Australian Aboriginal people.

While song titles were not always offered (and a program not available), it didn’t matter… the words and stories put forward by Roach in his songs and in the simple but spell-binding conversational lead-ins to them stay firmly lodged in the audience’s minds: “Somehow you just got to put your troubles aside”. “You don’t have to carry your load on your own”. “Heal the people; heal the land”. “Sometimes it seems like you are struggling up a big hill, but sneak a look back and see how far you’ve come”. And to cheers and calls from the Indigenous people in the packed audience – “We are going to get to the top of the hill one day”.

With the huge indigenous ensemble on stage with him – the strong human bond that we all watch as the music is made flows out from the stage to us… and Roach lets us know we are part of it and welcome to enjoy what they offer. It is all about love, he mentions a few times, and we feel that love.

Special guests Vika & Linda accompany Roach in some numbers, members of the ensemble step forward and complement, and writer and actor Jack Charles offers to the fabulous proceedings also.

A profound homage to his late partner Ruby, and also to the suffering of his people seeps magically into his music and words throughout this incredible show.

And we thank Archie and his ensemble for including us and reminding us… in the only way that we can – a standing ovation; and also –through our own reflection upon the important stories he tells through his wonderful music.

Into The Bloodstream is undoubtedly one of the shining gems of the 2013 Adelaide Festival.

Stephen House

Stephen is a writer with numerous plays, exhibitions and short films produced. He has been commissioned often and directs and performs his work. He has won two AWGIE Awards from The Australian Writers Guild and an Adelaide Fringe Award (as well as more), and has received several international literature residencies. Stephen has been Artistic Director of many events. He has been performing his acclaimed solo show, “Appalling Behaviour” nationally from 2010 – 2014 (100 shows to date). Stephen has 2 new works in development.

Stephen House

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