Review: Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir

Reverend Billy delivers a colourful, toe-tapping sermon on anti-consumerism, climate change and the law.

When Reverend Billy enters Elder Hall he’s wearing a collar and a heavily hairsprayed televangelist’s bouffant. He’s also wearing a hot pink suit and it’s the first sign that his will be no ordinary sermon. He’s less concerned with the fire and brimstone that may await sinners than the destruction of this planet in real time.

And he’s a persuasive preacher. He paces back and forth, delivering his message in a measured way and repeating key phrases until the spirit catches him and he takes flight. Then, he launches into a passionate tirade as his voice rises, his face begins to match the shade of his suit and a vein throbs on his forehead. He exhorts the congregation to action, telling them that they hold the key to their own salvation.

Throughout the performance, Billy sets his sights on the bankers financing climate change, the military and law enforcement agencies restricting human rights and the onlookers who can see what’s happening and do nothing about it. Closer to home, he finds the devil in the emissions-fuelled entertainment of the Superloop 500 though there’s a touch of hypocrisy about decrying this after flying 15 people halfway across the world.

Reverend Billy certainly can’t be accused of just preaching to the choir – he took his message to the gates of the Superloop and direct activism is a huge part of his work, and his message. For their part, the Stop Shopping Choir are clad in a rainbow assortment of sequins and neon mesh, and look to be thoroughly enjoying their time in Adelaide.

As they sing, Billy echoes their message and they match and then raise his energy levels, dancing and shaking onstage. The soloists boast incredible voices and provide some of the highlights of the show, particularly during the soaring, joyous gospel number that closes the set. They try to bring the congregation with them on this religious experience, and though it never quite happens, by the time they finish the audience is at least dancing in their seats if not the aisles.

Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir performed at Bonython Hall on March 2

Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir: EARTHALUJAH!
Friday, March 1 – Sunday, March 10

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