Lucas Abela @ East Brisbane Bowls Club

Anything can be an instrument if you're creative enough

Watching Lucas Abela perform, you quickly become aware of one thing. It's always been there I suppose, lying just out of reach of the conscious mind. It's this: almost all shows you go to, while they may vary on the specifics, are pretty much the same thing - guitar, drums, keyboards; chords, scales, you know the drill. These things are great, and do offer quite a bit of scope for variety; but it's rare that you see someone making music totally outside of this form.

This is where Lucas Abela comes in. Over the years he has been a multi-disciplinary artist; but his longest lasting project, and the one that has brought him the most notoriety, is as Justice Yeldham - the world's foremost player of sheets of glass. And though on tonight's bill he is listed under the name his parents gave him, this is the medium which brings him up to Brisbane again.

For the uninitiated, what this is involves is an ordinary sheet of glass which Lucas kind of blows raspberries on. There is a contact microphone on the glass, which runs through an array of effects pedals before coming out the amp as an extraordinary roaring noise.

You could dance to it if you were so inclined - it has a kind of rhythmic pulse - but nobody is because the spectacle of Lucas' performance is just so entrancing. He kneels behind his pedal board, rocking back and forth and occasionally contorting his body as he blows away on the glass. The medium is the message here - the noise is cool sure; but it's how he makes the noise that really blows your mind.

It's a few years since I last saw him play, and I reckon in that time Lucas has broadened the range of sounds he can make on the glass. It's a bit more, dare I say, musical. There are no songs or verses or choruses; but the set wanders through different parts that explore all the capabilities of the instrument and the player.

One thing there is no doubt of is that Lucas Abela is the world's finest exponent of glass-playing. I think of him as one of Australia's great musicians - and I mean that. As I looked around the room, with milk crates and pallets piled up everywhere and maybe forty people watching; I was wishing (knowing that this was one of those wishes that most likely never comes true) that Lucas Abela could be seen blowing on the glass on the main stage of big music festivals. For pure "how-the-hell-is-he-doing-that" creativity, Lucas Abela is a performer few could claim to compete with.

Andy Paine

Zed Facts

On 14 December 1988, 4ZZZ was taken off air and forcibly evicted from its UQ premises by the then student union executive, headed by one Victoria Brazil. The move prompted many previously apolitical students to take a firm stand against the move and to rally support for the station. While Zed was not to return to the premises its' volunteers had helped hand-build, unprecedented community support saw the station live to fight another day.