I was initially skeptical when I heard that the indie band Forgive Durden, was turning its latest album, last year's Razia's Shadow, into a musical for the tour that stopped at Java Jazz Tuesday evening. Razia's Shadow follows a storyline about a a world torn between the 'light' and 'dark' sides, and only the 'chosen' one can bring back together again, touching on theme of hope, despair and love. (Sound familiar, Star Wars fans?). Lead singer Thomas Dutton plays the main character, Adakias, and assorted minor roles, while three other singers play the other characters. I wasn't sure what to expect from an indie musical, wondering if there would be props and drastic accent changes along the way. There were no dancing or theatrics, but the musical was well put-together and many of the songs were strong enough to stand alone.
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My personal favorite was the fast-paced, uplifting "Life is Looking Up," in which the angel Ahrima dreams of the time when other angels realize he can change the world. This precedes his fall to the 'dark side,' and I could hear the tone shift in the strategically spaced-out music. However, at times, the words were difficult to understand, and with no acting to provide clues, it was sometimes hard to follow the exact plot. Forgive Durden deserves credit for being on the vanguard of an undertaking like this in the indie scene. While the audience didn't give the band much to feed off (it was a relatively small crowd), the show still deserved more attention than it received. Eventually, Dutton's goal is to turn Razia's Shadow into a full-blown production. One Ohio high-school class has already staged a production, and took a field trip to see Forgive Durden when the band came through.