stand-ups/comedians Nick Caddaye and Lisa-Skye are an odd couple. I mean, they
are not a 'couple', but they are indeed odd. This two person sketch comedy show
has some great juxtaposition between straight laced order of grumpy Caddaye and
fluro haired Anarchy explosion Lisa-Skye's boundless enthusiasm. There is a bit
of light audience participation (nothing to worry about) and a great line-in
really well prepared sketches and ones where the wheels could fall off at any
moment. I'm loathe to break down the particulars of any sketch shows
performance but a trip over the River Styx and the fine products of Gary
Gazebo, were highlights for me. Both performers are from Melbourne were their reputations are huge. Lisa-Skye
is fast building a loyal fan-base in Adelaide
and Caddaye is so fantastically likable despite his 'gruff' personae that he
is doing the same. There is only a couple more shows, so do yourself a favour.
The SBS TV show Numbers and Letters was much loved and clearly is still missed.
Based on the UK
show Countdown which is currently in it's 73rd season, it's a game show where
people have to find words in collections of randomly selected letters and do
maths equations with similarly random numbers while racing against the clock. It's the geek/nerds perfect game show. Now add comedians (and often alcohol) and you
have Late Night Numbers & Letters. Returning for it's third year, Late Night
has found an eager audience of dictionary challenging wordsmiths and
calculating mathematicians. Hosted by lovable Melbourne curmudgeon, Nick Caddaye with guest comedian dictionary guardians and contestants each night, Late Night Numbers &
Letters manages to stay close to the originals format and intent, while being
utterly hilarious at the same time. Unlike the TV show there are actual prizes
to be won. The Science Exchange is tucked away in Exchange Place in the city (enter from Pirie Street).
These Things Happen
Rhino Room Beer Garden
7:30pm til Sunday Feb 28
There is something special about seeing Fleety
at the Rhino Room. People may know that Rhino, Adelaide and the Adelaide Comedy Family has
played an important role for Greg Fleet in the last few years. An environment
that has helped him cope with his demons, be a safe and nurturing home base at times and help spur a jag of creative output from an incredibly talented man. In the last couple of years Fleet has written and performed an award winning play (This is Not a Love Song), appeared in a great Zombie Movie (Me & My Mates Vs The Zombie Apocalypse), created a great TV show about the Australian comedy scene (Die Standing Up) and released an amazing memoir (These Things Happen)
and continued to do great work as a stand-up comedian. The show tonight (which
shares it's name with the book), in the intimate Rhino beer garden, is a great
example of his masterful story telling.
Not afraid to tango with uncomfortable truths (of which he has many), Greg
Fleet is a funny bugger and takes us on a bumpy roller coaster ride of vignettes
from his life, observation and self examination. It's structure is more
theatrical than straight stand up, there is much that is hilarious, but it
works as a complete piece with the audience enraptured til it's completion when
they erupt with heartfelt ovation. A sterling slice of masterful comedic work.
You never know who you will be sitting next to at an event
like this. I suspect the gentleman sitting next to me doesn't get out of the
house much. On the stage one of the greatest singers of all time is singing, my
neighbour is asking me "How old do you think she is?", "This is a great song isn't?" and
most annoyingly of all "I've never heard of this one. Do you know it? I've
never heard of it.". After a while he tires of me not answering and gets
back to his other favourite in concert pass time, singing along. This, he is
determined to do, despite not know the right words.
Darlene Love is one of the great voices that define the 1960's. As part of the
Phil Spector Wall of Sound. She was the
voice of The Crystals, Bob B Soxx & The Blue Jeans and the Blossoms and has
sung with everybody from Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley (she is even on the '68
Comeback special) to Cheech & Chong (seriously! She does backing vocals on
Basketball Jones). She also played Danny Glovers wife in the Lethal Weapon
movies. As a solo artist she had some success but most people are here for the
evergreen sounds of the 60's.
An impressive ten piece band and four backing vocalists, provide a suitable
lush backing for powerhouse vocals of Ms Love, who at 72 can still sing people
a fraction of her age under the table. Her voice is rich, full, it's powerful,
soulful...brassy. Amazing pipes, and great legs, damn! Pipes and pins. And
tonight seems to whiz by between doing most of those Spector era songs she is
known for and some medleys by friends like Marvin Gaye and Roberta Flack. There
are some good stories about people she has worked with.
Last year Darlene Love featured strongly in the amazing 20 feet From Fame,
which won the Academy Award for best documentary. Love was the one that
accepted the award on the night and one of
tonight's highlights is her take on the Bill Withers classic Lean on Me.
The Phil Spector stories don't really go into too much
detail of his famous mistreatment of his artists, but just the way she refers
to him as 'Mr Spec-tor', tells a story of it's own. "Over the years, with
Mr Spec-tor......I learned not to hate him or dislike him. Because I have
places to go and people to meet and he is not here with us. He has been put
away for life.". Like some other music greats, it is sometimes difficult
to separate their crimes from their creative output. Do the child abuse
allegations against Michael Jackson make Billie Jean any less of a brilliant
song? Does Wesley Snipes going to jail for tax evasion make me like the Blade
movies any less? And does Phil Spectors terrible treatment of his performers
and ultimately the murder of a women in his home, make Be My Baby or Da Doo Ron
Ron any less epic, timeless classic songs? The answer is no, It makes me have
to do a little compartmentalizing in my brain when I hear those songs, I can love
the song and loath the actions of the man. Spector was always eccentric and
there are countless tales of him doing seemingly oddball or dangerous things (listening to
the opening chord of Rock'n'RollHigh School for 14 hours
in a row, waving guns at people) that go from a bit weird to downright sinister in the light of his
conviction. As Darlene says, he was a genius. He did incredible things and certainly
gave her a career, but the implication is she is more than happy to never see
him again, and that he will end his days in a prison cell. So when she does
He's A Rebel, it's all about the glory of that song. The strident dismissal of
negative feelings towards a teenage girls affection for her no-good-nik hoodlum
boyfriend. She knows he is a rebel. She knows he's never, ever going be any
good. She knows he's never, ever going do what he should. She knows, that just
because he doesn't do what everybody else does, is no impediment to delivering
to the aforementioned rebel, all of her not inconsiderable love. It was a
glorious anthem of rebellion and teenage love when it was released in 1962 and
fifty years later is still a cracker.
She finishes with a song that should have been hers. She did
the original demo of River Deep Mountain High, but Spector instead gave it to
Tina Turner who turned it into it into a bona fide rock & soul classic.
It's five decades later and it is clear that action still stings, Ms Love sings
the heck out of it tonight and suddenly she is gone.
It was a brief show (just over an hour and no encore) and
one suspects there are more songs to sing and stories to tell. I hope we have
the opportunity for our paths to cross again.
He's Sure the One I Love
Wait Til My Bobby Gets Home / Da Do Ron Ron
Today I Met The Boy I'm Gonna Marry
Marvin Gaye Medley : Ain't That Peculiar / You're All I Need
to Get By / Ain't No Mountain
High Enough / What's Going On?
Roberta Flack Medley : Killing Me Softly / .....
A Fine, Fine Boy
Dan Finnerty is
married to Kathy Nijimy who was one
of the big draws of this years festival. Their shows were pretty different.
After appearance in the movies The Hangover and Old
School, The Dan Band have
become cult favourites.
They are rude.
It says so right there in the Cabaret Festival guide. So I am surprised by some
of the walkouts. Let's make it pretty clear, The Dan Band is a one joke act.
However it is a pretty good joke. Men singing songs by women, not changing the
gender of the lyrics, leads to some funny things.
It's a bit wrong.
It's a bit misogynistic.
But it is very funny.
They arrive on stage to the Wonder Woman
theme and S&M by Rihanna. And before too long they are
smashing through a breakneck Abba
Medley. Then there's a Salt'n'Pepa
medley, so you see where we are going with this. Some of the best 'wrong town'
moments are the interactions with the audience.
Dan "Hey Shelley were you C or V? C-Section or vaginal?
Shelley "Who cares?"
Dan "Your mom cared!"
Shelley "Maybe she died!"
Dan "HAPPY CABARET FESTIVAL EVERYBODY".
Then they do a speeded up version of the disco hit Ring My Bell (complete bell ringing
solo). When they do Shakira's Whenever Whenever Dan gets to sing the
line "My breasts are small and humble", it's silly, it's a bit wrong,
it's really funny.
Dan sings the songs and his two man 'band' is made up of two middle aged
bespectacled guys who look like they should be work in the resources department
of your office. They provide backing vocals sure, but it is their utterly
hilarious choreography that is often the star of the show. They hula hoop,
flounce, do hand stands, dance and all the time looking incongruous, like they
shouldn't be there, but you are glad they are.
During the set there are songs by Britney
Spears, Christina Aguilera, TLC.
When they do Wilson
PhillipsHold On it is a
highlight and people go crazy, but it's nothing to the reaction for Bonnie Tyler's epic Total Eclipse of The Heart. Because folk
be going loco for that one. There are a couple of false encores including a
fully choreographed Single Ladies
with Lady Bey on the screen behind them. Extremely funny.
The show stopper was Pink's Glitter in the Air complete with some of
the dodgiest 'rope' work you'll ever see, hysterical, unco, brilliant.
As I said, kind of one joke band, but it's a great joke.
In a strange bit of programming for me tonight I
see Hail To The King, four women
singing Elvis Presley songs and then go directly to The Dan Band three men
singing hits made famous by women. Take that gender stereotypes!
Hail to the King, is a straightforward idea, girls singing songs by one of the
manliest men in music history. Not impersonations exactly, but personalized
homages. Each singer does a solo set with some duets and cross overs. Stella Angelico is up first and enters
the stage in a cape and sequinned jump suit with hot pants affair, that we can
be grateful the King never favoured himself. She starts with Fever, the Peggy Lee classic (Elvis does do my absolute favourite version of
this song) and then it soon become apparent that this wouldn't just be a
greatest hits collection. Angelico delvers all these numbers with a shimmy and
an Amy Winehouse twang. There are
certainly classic Elvis Hits, but the selection of 'road less travelled'
Presley songs like Big Hunk o'Love
and Too Much, immediately impresses
and gives this show a point of difference above the obvious. I am especially
impressed with the inclusion of Devil in
Disguise, the song I made my public performing debut with, lip syncing it
at a Sunday School concert in a crepe paper cape with a gold crown on the back
and cellophane stuck to my black national health glasses when I was 9 years
old. A duet with Mojo Juju on the
excellent Crawfish from King
Creole is a sterling cross over. Mojo is wearing a pink and black
jacket and is evoking the early Elvis. Heartbreak
Hotel, Love Me, Hound Dog and Blue
Moon all delivered with Presley-esque quiver and sexuality. Local girl Simone Page-Jones takes the stage in a black
vinyl jumpsuit and her mums knee high boots and playful energy. She starts with
Animal Instinct, a pretty obscure
song from the movie Harem Scarum and follows that with another soundtrack song, the
smouldering All That I Am from Spinout.
It's Over and a raucous Baby Let's Play House are excellent.
Special mention of the band must be made here. A tight little combo to be sure
but the wild and authentic 'licks' from guitar player Felix Pattier are splendid. Simone introduces the fourth and finale
lady to the stage and it is a genuine surprise that it is Christa Hughes. Ex-Machine
Gun Fellatio, Cab Fest regular and welcome last minute addition to this
line up. Wearing a full body gold lame jumpsuit that I imagine she just had in
her hand luggage 'just in case', she rips up Viva Las Vegas, with Page-Jones before a cracking Trouble (also from King Creole). In fact all
but one of the Hughes songs are from Elvis movies Little Egypt (Roustabout), Edge of Reality and A Little
Less Conversation (both from Live a Little Love a Little). The
non-movie song Long Black Limousine.
Hughes has a loud and infectious on stage personae she is clearly the most
comfortable performer on the stage. Her voice is bold and brassy but there are
some liberties taken with the lyrics (I say liberties, but they may just been
mistakes), but in the spirit such a fun show, this is a minor and forgivable
detail. Everybody is back for the rip roaring finale of Suspicious Minds.
It's a fun show and there are late shows this Friday and Saturday night at
Cabaret! The word conjures images of feather boas, cocktail
glasses, slightly risqué content, Broadway and razzle dazzle. When looking
through the Cabaret Festival guide this show, looked, well it didn't look very
cabaret-ish. A collection of songs about petty criminals being transported to Tasmania as convicts in
the 1800's? Sounds a bit...depressing. But wait a minute. These songs are
written by former Weddings Parties
Anything head honcho Mick Thomas
and the cast includes Brian Nancurvis
(Rockwiz), Darren Hanlon, Aussie
blues legend Jeff Lang, You Am I front man Tim Rogers and a stellar
cast of other singers and musicians.
It is a half full Festival theatre this evening which is a damnable shame,
because Vandemonian Lags is an amazing piece of work. Yes the content isn't
always cheery (mostly un-cheery in actual fact), but all of the songs have
incredible emotional impact. There is a connectivity, a sense of 'there but for
the grace of God go I', a spirit of humanity and even hope, that is both
melancholy and rare.
Nancurvis and Rogers mostly take roles as narrators in guises as upper class
gentlemen or easily offended judges casting people to transportation to the
colonies for stealing or larceny. Both are exceptional in these linking roles,
and Rogers is
such a natural in his various characterizations I wonder if we will be seeing
him in Pirates of Penzance before too long. The 17 stories told see each
'convict' tell their sorry tale about how they come to being shipped off to Tasmania, considered the
'prison with no walls', or how they survived. Tales of love and loss, desperation,
injustice and redemption. The songs range from sad laments, jaunty folk
shanties to some rip roaring rock and roll.
Without going through each song and it's back
story, they are mostly true stories and when the Lags was premiered in Tasmania last year,
several descendants from the subjects of these songs were on hand to hear them.
Favourites for me were the almost square dance jig of Martha Hayes, Van Diemans Land by Lang, and Jane Gilligan On The Town and an amazing The Book Thief. Special mention has to be made of Tim Rogers
raucous take on a story of prostitutes being run out of the Launceston medical
facility, the hilariously titled Sex
Hospital. But the shining star in the programme is also the most hopeful
story. After being transported for poaching and serving 20 years, Samuel tried
his hand at prospecting and quickly hit it rich and returned to the UK bought the
manner he formerly worked for and was reunited with his wife after two decades.
The Wildest Dreams of Samuel is
utterly beautiful, sad and glorious and the most hopeful tale in this
Mick Thomas has created a remarkable piece of work here. It is an powerful
emotional journey, with fantastic songs and very strong performances. These are
songs and performances that will have a resonance long after the curtain
closes. I believe this to be a work that will have a long life and I can see it
performed by an ever changing cast long into the future.