Cosmic Shambles LIVE: PerthApril 13th 2017, Octagon Theatre
An Acknowledgement of Country backstage and the final night of the tour begins at the University of Western Australia’s Octagon Theatre.
There was a bit of a homegrown flavour to this show from all angles. Firstly, tour producers Trent and Melinda Burton from Trunkman Productions both grew up not far from Perth, in Fremantle, many, many moons ago. And as the puppets took the big screen, puppet Tim Minchin may’ve been built in London, but the real Tim is of course from Perth, and studied at UWA specifically.
Robin Ince gets the ball rolling with stories of Feynman, Brexit and Sagan before introducing our first scientist of the evening.
Professor Fiona Wood, surgeon and inventor of spray of skin arrives to huge applause as she talks passionately of her life’s work that continues to this day working with burns victims.
Josie Long is next up with her final attempt to prove the existence of ghosts. Robin Ince eats his final tin of cold spaghetti for the tour and we may have actually had some success with the experiment on the final night. A photo taken in Sydney reveals Josie’s knee may actually have been possessed by a deceased child…
UK born, but UWA based, astrophysicist Toby Brown is next on stage with a a Choose Your Own Adventure game to play with the audience about the Big Bang. Unfortunately whatever path is chosen the Universe ultimately ends.
Perth’s own Nobel Laurette Professor Barry Marshall is next cab off the rank with a collection of helpful tips for those in the audience who might fancy winning a Nobel prize for themselves some day. Hopefully they can do it without drinking a beaker of bacteria…
Folk band, Simone & Girlfunkle are up next. Simone & Girlfunkle were responsible for the original soundtrack of the network’s web series The Quest for Wonder with Robin and Brian Cox so it was only right that they be on the bill in their hometown of Perth. Their set included a special request of their single Venus via tour producer Melinda.
As was now traditional, Matt Parker, armed with his Mrs Mac’s pie set about proving mathematical constants. In an extra twist for this show, Matt was also back at UWA, now performing in the exact theatre he used to sit in for his computer science lectures almost twenty years ago. It was only fitting then that his π-endulum produced i’s most accurate result of the tour so far, returning a remarkable 3.15.
Act 2 began with vocal loop artist Sam Perry. Sam was building his incredible performance from live sampling, recording and looping on stage which was sadly cut short due to a technical error. But, as Robin explained as he came on after, it’s always at the science gigs where the technology fails.
The QnA panel followed and featured Robin, Josie, Matt, Lucie Green and Barry. After they got through a good chunk of the audience questions Barry had presents for the audience including light up T-shirts featuring the Helicobacter Pylori bacterium, the discovery of which brought Barry and his lab mate Robin Warren their Nobel Prize in 2005.
Lucie stuck around to talk of solar science and the Skylab space station. Skylab had crash landed in Western Australia back in 1979 so Lucie’s talk had even more significance on this final date, especially when she produced a small piece of the actual Skylab from the crash site.
Stand up Matt Storer was next with a set that included his idea for a new sport he had invented just for nerds.
Renae Sayers was next along with a few demos to illustrate her work with Fireballs in the Sky, a citizen science project hunting for meteors in the deserts of Western Australia.
The final act of the evening was one we’d hope to end the tour on since it was first announced. Our UK shows usually feature one Professor Brian Cox, a keyboard player with D:Ream and Dare who left music behind to pursue a life in physics. And so it made sense to end the tour with a former physicist, who left science to be a keyboard player in a band. Of course, Don Walker is much more than just a keyboard player. The man responsible for so much of the output of Cold Chisel, arguably Australia’s most successful band, closed out the tour with three rocking numbers.
Robin and Josie returned to the stage to wrap things up, thank everyone and leave the audience with the Vonnegut phrase that had ended each show on the three week tour, ‘God dammit, you’ve got to be kind’.