Thursday, June 23, 2011




Banquet Room, Festival Theatre

Wed June 22, 2011

I have to say I love the Banquet Room as a venue. It has a great atmosphere, especially for cabaret performance. What we get tonight is a superb cabaret show. JANE CLIFTON is possessed of an incredible voice, the wit of a great story teller and the warm likeability of a classic showbiz performer. This is a great cabaret show.

Clifton former member of proto-feminist rock band Stiletto, singer on the Aussie classic Taxi Mary (with Jo Jo Zep) and cast member of Prisoner Cell Block H, combines all her talents in her current Adelaide Cabaret festival show.

With a three piece combo providing stylish and often swinging accompaniment Clifton takes to the stage in a flowing red outfit and takes a seat behind a stack of suitcases. It’s a simple and effective prop as the show is about her 2008 trip around the world visiting every house she ever lived in. As a UK Army brat, Clifton lived all over the world with her family, sometimes for years at a time and sometimes for only months. As effective as the suitcases are as a prop, the device of the revisiting all her old houses provides an effective narrative complete with a travelogue, time machine and jukebox all rolled into one. Using just a few photographs and warm and often hilarious stories about her life and travels, Clifton takes us on a perfectly wonderful journey. From the first song Rosemary Clooney’s Where Will the Baby’s Dimple Be, to flag her birth on the Rock of Gibraltar, a year or on an era is instantly conjured. A quick sing-a-long on How Much Is That Doggy in the Window (more fun than you might think), leads to an absolutely smouldering take on Billie Holidays Comes Love.

Don’t try hiding

Coz there isn’t any use

You just can’t stop sliding

When your heart turns on the juice

It is a hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck raising, goose bump inducing spectacular performance. Over the course of the hour long show she sings song (in whole or in part) from Elvis Presley, Cole Porter, The Troggs, Kathy Weston and The Beatles.

A great take of Shirley Basseys It’s My Body that’s Important Not My Mind is a highlight. Illustrating how diverse the charts in the early 60’s were she performs what is effectively a mash-up of Take Five by Dave Brubeck and Breaking Up Is Hard To Do by Neil Sedaka, and throws in another half dozen grabs of hits of the day. She let’s rip with solid rock power on Jefferson Starship’s White Rabbit, before talking about her time with Stiletto, but not singing any of their songs frustratingly.

She sings a highly amusing song about her time on Prisoner, The Blue Denim Overall Blues while a collage of Prisoner era photos shows on the screens. She closes the show with her hit single from 1982 The Girl in the Mirror.

A sterling night, catch her if you can.

Ian Bell

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