Sunday, April 22, 2012

MICHAEL BOLTON Adelaide Thursday 19 April 2012

Adelaide Festival Theatre
Thursday April 19th 2012.

In the spirit full disclosure it must be said that Michael Bolton and I have had our issues in the past. When he was super popular in the 1980's and 90's he was the antithesis of anything I considered good in music. I found him to be pompous, overblown and over rated and could not for the life of me work out why he was more popular than The Smiths or Pulp. Then there was an incident I witnessed when he toured in the 90's and stayed at the same hotel as Depeche Mode involving Dave Gahan having an argument with Bolton and his minders because MB wouldn't sign a poor lady's programme. And there was the hair.

However there have been four things happen since that have made me put a few ticks in the Yes Bolton column in my ledger of rock. 1) Some years back I was watching Letterman and he introduced Luciano Pavarotti and Michael Bolton duetting on Pav's signature aria Nessun Dorma. This, I thought, should be hilarious. I mean he's Pavarotti, and Michael Bolton is well...Michael Bolton. Bolton DESTROYED Pavarotti, simply and un-arguably sang him under the table. His voice was astounding and the performance was spellbinding. 2) Last year he showed he had a great sense of humour by recording the hysterical Jack Sparrow with the Lonely Island comedy rock band. The video of which saw him kissing seagulls and being dressed as Johnny Depp, Forrest Gump, Scarface, and most disturbingly Erin Brockovich. 3) Adelaide's most hirsute band The Beards have a Michael Bolton cover band side project called Bolty Bolt & The Bolton's and watching them I discovered how many of his songs were in my brain already. And lastly - he cut that hair!

The Festival Theatre is packed to the brim with Bolt-Heads (I swear this is what fans are called) and the presence of the excellent Adelaide Symphony Orchestra mean we can expect a lush sound this evening. As the band and Orchestra vamps on Soul Provider, Bolton arrives on stage to a rapturous welcome. He is very charismatic and works the stage. In between songs he fields people yelling out well wishes like a stand up comedian. "We have people strategically placed around the auditorium to shout things during the show." he deadpans.  His voice is absolute dynamite, strong and powerful and perfect for the sort of power ballads that made him the King of that oeuvre in the 80's. He does a great version of the Bee Gees To Love Somebody, before doing a stripped back rendition of his 1993 hit Said I Loved You..But I Lied. You Don't Know Me from the Vintage album has people behind me coo-ing and ahh-ing all the way through. He introduced one of his many special guests to the stage and it home grown rock guitar chick Orianthi. He name checks her mum and her dad, her sister, in fact her whole family, which impresses everybody. They crank up the volume for a smouldering Sweet Home Chicago, with Michael and Orianthi trading blues licks at the front of the stage. They are powering along and Bolton's saxophone player and backing singer/clarinet/trumpet player are wailing away. However there is a full horn section sitting at the rear of the stage doing nothing and it could have been cranked up to a whole new level by utilizing them. It is often a problem when a 'rock' band does stuff with an orchestra, getting the balance right. You don't want to over use a symphony orchestra, but the opposite is also true.

The band and ASO do They Can't Take That Away From Me while Michael goes off for a change of clothing for the Swing section of the show. In 2006 he released the Bolton Swings Sinatra album and his voice really suits the style. Fly Me To The Moon is excellent, and he introduces guest vocalist Kelly Levesque to duet on the next few numbers. A great take of Over The Rainbow and his massive hit How Am I Supposed to Live Without You lead to the classic David Foster song The Prayer.

He tells a lovely story about working with Luciano Pavarotti and dedicates Nessun Dorma to "The Greatest Tenor the world has ever known". It is a show stopper. His delivery and the grandeur of the Orchestra is spine-tingling. Incredible. He has probably earned a little break so he excuses himself while the stunning Ms Levesque does a medley of songs Michael has hits with for other people. We're Not Making Love Anymore, I Found Someone and Forever where hits for Barbra Streisand, Cher and Kiss respectively. As a long time Kiss fan I would have preferred Bolton to sing Forever himself, but it was still pretty great. He returns to the stage to introduce his saxophone player Michael Lington to play his top ten jazz hit You and I. It's pretty good in a 1980's saxophone player way, and I did wonder if there is a dorm hose in LA somewhere full of tight shiny suit wearing sax men sitting around waiting for Bolton or Sade to announce a tour.

The band starts playing When A Man Loves a Woman and Bolton appears out in the crowd belting out the soul classic only centimetres from the fans, who are all desperately whipping out their camera phones to snap their hero. Back on stage and straight into How Can We Be Lovers. Even I have to grudgingly admit this is a pretty good song, although I'm sure there would be plenty of chaps willing to explain to Michael exactly how you can actually be lovers without being friends, but there is no time for that now. He finishes the set with two songs from 1991 Steel Bars and Time, Love & Tenderness.

There is little doubt he will return (bit obvious when the orchestra doesn't budge), and when he does it's to perform an impressive Go The Distance from Disney's animated Hercules movie. They finish with a powerful version of U2's anthem Pride (In The Name Love). Everybody is back on stage, Orianthi, Kelly and it's sounding great. There are however 60 members of the ASO sitting round doing nothing. While Bolton with his band do sound epic I was longing for the orchestra to kick in and make it the super epic it could have been. The slight under use of the ASO aside, Michael Bolton turned on a fantastically entertaining night and truly deserved the several standing ovations he received throughout the night.

So I think Mr Bolton and I are all cool now. Unless he regrow's the mullet again, then we'll have to re-access.

Ian Bell

SET LIST 19 April 2012

Soul Provider
To Love Somebody
I Said I Loved You
You Don't Know Me
Sweet Home Chicago
They Can't Take That Away From Me
Fly Me To The Moon
That's Life
To Make You Feel My Love
Over The Rainbow
How Am I Supposed to Live Without You
The Prayer
Nessun Dorma
Medley : We're Not Making Love Anymore / I Found Someone / Forever
You & I (Michael Lington)
When A Man Loves A Woman
How Can We Be Lovers
Steel Bars
Time Love & Tenderness

Go The Distance
Pride (In The Name of Love)

Friday, March 30, 2012




Thebarton Theatre

Mon 26 March 2012

Bowling shirts and greased up hair, 50's pin-up girls are all over Thebby and ready to rock'n'roll, with the head Stray Cat Mr Brian Setzer and his Rockabilly Riot.

Australia's own cool rockin' sweetheart Miss Lanie Lane kicked thing off in fine form, and it seems like only five minutes ago she was playing the Glenelg Surf club, and now she is kickin' ass all over the Thebby stage. I won't go through a blow by blow of her set tonight, but I will say she was great, she's playing The Gov on May 11th and you should go and see her then, I'll see you there.

Brian Setzer is one cool cat. He dresses great (green brothel creepers - hellyeah), his hair is great, he sings great, he is an incredible guitar player AND he is hell of a showman. He takes the stage with Johhny Hatton on bass and Noah Levy on drums and they rip into Ignition from his short lived outfit 68 Comeback Special, but from the first note - IT'S ON DADDY-O. Levy is swinging on his kit, and looks like classic 50's nerd kid who just got hip. Hatton (who has previously played with both Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan) has a huge quiff which is fluro green and is slapping the be-jesus out of his upright bass. They bang through songs from many of Setzers solo albums and a bunch of tunes from his Brian Setzer Orchestra too. Joined for some numbers by boogie woogie piano player Kevin McKendree, they do a killer version of Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues and finish the first part of the show with two tracks form his latest (and first completely instrumental) album. Pickpocket is excellent, but his blistering version of Blue Moon of Kentucky is totally mind-blowing. Johnny and Noah leave the stage and the stage is reset.

Brian introduces Melbourne boy Chris D'Rozario on (green fluro flamed) double bass and original Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom and the crowd goes bananas. No surprises then when they tear into Rumble In Brighton from the first Cats album in 1981. Setzer is all over the stage, D'Rozario is flinging his green flame bass around like it's a toy and Slim Jim is playing like a freight train. When they start Runaway Boys I thought the roof was going to cave in, everybody singing and dancing. There's some teasing with the intro to She's Sexy & 17, before we're of again. Stray Cat Strut slows the pace but not the pulses and shows Setzers dexterity on the fret board. Cry Baby from the 1992 Choo Choo Hot Fish is a nice surprise for the die-hards. At some point both double bass players are on stage together having a bass off. What could be better than that? How about Setzer appearing with a third double bass and turning it into a three way battle! They finish the set with Fishnet Stockings also from the first Cats album.

They all return for an explosive Rock This Town and finish up with an incredible finale of rockabilly classic Seven Nights to Rock. Such a cool night - if you get a chance to see these guys in the Eastern states GO MAN GO!

Word and Photos - Ian Bell

Brian Setzer Rockabilly Riot

Adelaide Set(zer) List 26 March 2012

Ignition (Ignition 2001)

48 mercury Blues (VaVoom 2000)

This Cat's On A Hot Tin Roof (The Dirty Boogie 1998)

Drive Like Lightning (VaVoom 2000)

8 Track (Ignition 2001)

Slow Down (Rockabilly Riot 2005)

Folsom City Blues (Johnny Cash cover)

Put on Your Cat Clothes (Red Hot & Live 2007)

Blue Moon of Kentucky (Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL 2011)

Pick Pocket (Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL 2011)

Rumble in Brighton (Stray Cats - Stray Cats 1981)

Runaway Boys (Stray Cats - Stray Cats 1981)

Sexy & 17 (Stray Cats Rant'n'Rave 1983)

Stray Cat Strut (Stray Cats - Stray Cats 1981)

Cry Baby (Stray Cats - Choo Choo Hot Fish 1992

Red Hot (Rockabilly Riot 2005)

Fishnet Stockings (Stray Cats - Stray Cats 1981)

Rock This Town (Stray Cats - Stray Cats 1981)

Seven Nights to Rock (Moon Mullican cover)

Thursday, March 29, 2012



Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Tues 28 March 2012

The last time Frankie Valli was in Adelaide was 1979, that's a long time between drinks and last night his South Australian fans were thirsty for the original Jersey Boy. Possessing one of the most unique falsetto voices in music history Frankie Valli was an American Italian kid, who had a massive string of 39 Top 40 Hits spanning the 1960's through the 1980's. Many of those songs still turn up in movie soundtracks and so forth a full 50 years after first being hits. In recent years massive new interest has been generated in Valli's music via the massive success of the Jersey Boys stage musical. So there are several generations of fans at the Entertainment Centre this evening and a lot of great songs to get through.

It's a big band, many of which have been with Valli for decades with a great all-Adelaide horn section (hats off guys, great job). I'm not quite sure why it was billed as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons though. There are four young singer/dancers providing the harmonies and the choreography, but none of them old enough to be members of any of the classic line-up's of the actual Four Seasons. In fact, they were much more 'Jersey Boys' musical theatre than Seasons, to the point where I found their enthusiastic twirling a little distracting at times.

They open with The Night with the local brass section earning their pay packet right up front. Dawn (Go Away) is next and their are chills up our collective spines as those glorious layered harmonies wash over us. However it certainly does appear that while Mr Valli is still quite the showman, both he and his backing singers have more than a little vocal help via what I like to call the Morning Television effect. You know on The Circle when they have a guest chef on and he's saying you have to cook the flan for 45 minutes, BUT here's one I prepared earlier? It's like that except instead of a flan it is a note perfect vocal track. A few songs in it becomes obvious that not everything coming out of the speakers is coming out of the mouths on the stage live. This is very common place these days and major acts, especially those either doing lots of dancing (i.e. Madonna, Janet Jackson, etc) or older performers who at 60 or 70 don't have the puff to put on the same show they once did, will often have a little help (and sometimes a lot) on the tape. This is always a controversial thing to say, because the people who went and had a great time feel like you're telling them Santa Claus isn't real or something. I don't think in the scheme of thing anybody in attendance tonight was that bothered one way or the other, but it needed to be mentioned. It's also important to say this was not the case for the entire performance, as something's were absolutely sung live.

Opus 17, Working My Way Back To You and their classic take of I've Got You Under My Skin (dedicated to Frank Sinatra) have people chair dancing enthusiastically. The run of hits continues with Save it for Me and the excellent Beggin'. Frankie sits on a stool for one of my favourite solo Valli numbers My Eyes Adored You from 1975 (I think I had it on the Ripper compilation album!). Swearing to God from the same year, is the first of his disco flavoured hits.

There is a section of songs from his latest album Romancing the 60's (which actually came out in 2007), where he covered a bunch of classic 60's tunes by Petula Clarke, Ben E King, Everly Brothers and the Temptations, but gave them a terrific 4 Seasons make over. So we get Call Me, Let it Be Me, Spanish Harlem and a great medley of My Girl and Groovin'. But time's getting on and there are a lot of his own hits to get to yet. And the rest of the set is 100% solid gold classics. Silence is Golden, Grease, Who Loves You. A mass sing-a-long on December 1963 (Oh What a Night) is fantastic fun, and with the four singers and Valli all taking turns at lead vocals proof that some bits of the performance are live. After introducing the band the room is full of sighs as he starts Can't Take My Eyes Off You. How many countless people have I seen dance to this song at their weddings? And that is the real point of tonight, wether or not everything is live or not, these songs have been an important part of the soundtrack of peoples lives for FIVE decades, and we are all thrilled to be in same room as the guy who made these songs so important to us.

Surely that must be all the hits? No way Jose. Sherry, Walk Like a Man, Big Girls Don't Cry and Bye Bye Baby round out the evening. He returns for Rag Doll and it's during the last song Let's Hang On that there can be no doubt he has some vocal help. Bent over signing autographs and shaking hands for most of the song, his voice doesn't falter at all. And I doubt that not one of the dozens of people who rushed to the front to shake this legends hand cared a jot.

Ian Bell

The Night

Dawn (Go Away)

Opus 17 (Don't Worry About Me)

Working My Way Back to You

I've Got You Under My Skin

Save It For Me


My Eyes Adored You

Swearing to God

Call Me

Let It Be Me

Spanish Harlem

My Girl / Groovin'

Silence is Golden


Who Loves You

December '63 (Oh What a Night)

Band Intro's

Can't Take My Eyes off You


Walk Like a Man

Big Girls Don't Cry

Bye Bye Baby

Rag Doll

Let's Hang On

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

DURAN DURAN Adelaide Tues Mar 20 2012

Adelaide Entertainment Centre
Tuesday March 20 2012
As you get older there are some things that just don't seem possible. One of those things for me this week was realizing that the first time I went to a Duran Duran concert was almost exactly THIRTY YEARS AGO!
Music from the 1980's, especially pop music, is often derided and ridiculed as being all style over substance and has been referred to as "the decade that taste forgot". And whilst I do concede that the era was a whirl of MTV videos, massive hair, shoulder pads, three quarter length coats and hyper colour t-shirts, the Eighties produced some of the best pop music and best pop stars ever. After the grim and gritty days of pub rock/punk rock/West Coast in the 1970's the video assisted, impossibly glamorous glory days of the New Romantics were fantastically exciting time to be a pop music fan. The charts were full of amazing peacocks like Boy George, Spandau Ballet, Pseudo Echo, Adam & The Ants, Toyah, Kate Bush, Prince and standing above them all in their tailored Anthony Price suits, was the mighty Duran Duran. They looked great, sounded great, acted like they were Bowie, Roxy Music and Hugh Hefner all rolled into one. In this country especially we took to them with great enthusiasm and they were all over our charts way before much of the rest of the world caught on. The first tours in 1982 and 83 were crazy and it took over 20 years for them to get back but this is their third tour in the last ten years.
The audience is absolutely buzzing before the guys hit the stage. There are reunions and catch ups with old Durannies, friends and fans. I bumping into people I haven't seen for decades and it's great fun. But the support DJ's are drawing to a merciful end and we take our places.
Out of the darkness they appear; Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Roger Taylor and Simon Le Bon (guitarist Andy Taylor left years ago) and they launch into Before The Rain from their latest album All You Need Is Now. It's a bit of an odd choice because it's a little slow and most people don't know it, but we're getting by on adrenaline. Planet Earth sends the place into near hysteria. Everybody is on their feet, everybody is dancing and everybody is yelling "Ba Ba Ba Baba Ba Ba Ba THIS IS PLANET EARTH". Their Bond theme A View to a Kill starts and everyone around me is smiling their heads off. They do quite a lot of tracks from the most recent album including the title track and there is some awkward robotic dad dancing from Simon during Blame the Machines. Fortunately the new album is pretty damn good, even if many in the audience haven't heard it yet. Simon heads into the pit to find a bloke to help start the next song. He finds 80's Superfan Aaron Crocker, a life long Duran fan. He gets to sing the introduction to The Reflex with one of his favourite bands, it was a highlight for everybody.
Next is Come Undone from 1993 is awesome, and one of the songs that saw them make a comeback of sorts and win a legion of new fans. Back to the present for Safe (In the Heat of the Moment) before returning to 1983 for Is There Something I Should Know? and the dancing has cranked back up and there's more singing. My favourite of the new songs Girl Panic is actually a terrific pop song and catchy as anything, people are singing along by the first chorus. However The Man Who Stole a Leopard which may have been the one song too many from the new one (six in all). It is always a hard balance when a band has been around this long. They want to play new songs, we all want to hear the old ones. The Man Who Stole a Leopard is based on a true story that they saw on a TV news item, which they incorporate into the songs closing. It's a hit heavy race to the finish line from here on out. Notorious is excellent. I love that they still insist on doing their cover of Grandmaster Melle Mel's White Lines from their much mocked covers album Thank You. Released in 1995 it contained covers of some of their favourite songs and whilst much of it was great it was critically savaged with Q Magazine naming it as the worst album ever. Clearly that isn't true, as that title must go to any (or all) albums by Nickleback. So that Duran still play White Lines, just because they like playing it, is marvellous.
There is a massive treat for older fans when they play the instrumental Tiger Tiger from their Seven & The Ragged Tiger album. They used to use it as their play on music, but this tour is the first time they've played it live. The other hit from 1993 Ordinary World is dedicated to the people of Somalia, and one of their greatest songs.
Truth be told Le Bon has seemed a little tired for the first half of the show and it has taken a little while for him to 'vibe up'. But by now he is having a great time, dancing and smiling through every song. Hungry Like The Wolf is as electrifying as it was 30 years ago and the band is sounding great. Apart from the four original members there is some assistance from guitarist Dom Brown, percussionist/keyboard/sax guy Simon Willescroft and additional vocals from Anna Ross. Reach Up For The Sunrise is anthemic and everybody has their hands up in the air. The set closer is The Wild Boys from 1984. It's a huge song made even huger by them mashing it up with Frankie Goes To Hollywoods Relax. It's a perfect match!
They are not done yet of course. They return for an extended 'nite version' of Girls on Film which was mind blowing and they finish up with the equally thrilling Rio.
There was a bunch of hits they didn't do (Careless Memories, My Own Way, Save a Prayer, Union of the Snake, New Moon on Monday) but they more than thrilled everybody with the set list tonight. Duran Duran were and remain a fantastic band.
Ian Bell
Duran Duran set list
Before The Rain
Planet Earth
A View To A Kill
All You Need Is Now
Blame The Machines
The Reflex
Come Undone
Safe (In the Heat of the Moment)
Is There Something I Should Know?
Girl Panic!
The Man Who Stole a Leopard
White Lines (Don't Do It)
Tiger Tiger
Ordinary World
Hungry Like The Wolf
(Reach up for the) Sunrise
The Wild Boys / Relax
Girls on Film

NICK LOWE Adelaide 2012


Norwood Concert Hall

Saturday 24 March 2012

It was an intimate (that means quite small) but enthusiastic (that means enthusiastic) audience gathered at the Town Hall of Norwood, to see and hear Mr Nick Lowe, one of the great English singer/songwriters of the last thirty years. Sure he may not be a household name, but he flippin' well should be. He started his career as part of pub rockers Brinsley Schwartz in the mid seventies. He was the first act signed to legendary punk label Stiff Records, and as their in-house producer was responsible for the sound of classic records by Elvis Costello and the first punk single New Rose by The Damned. As a songwriter he has written a bunch of all time classics including I Knew The Bride, What's So Funny About Peace Love & Understanding, Cruel to be Kind and All Men Are Liars. Johnny Cash was once his father in law. In short Nick Lowe is a pretty cool dude! In recent years Nick continues to produce incredible, if 'humbly' selling, albums full of songs of great warmth, depth and verve. His workmanlike attitude seems to be, if the radio doesn't play your songs, and your not on the telly that much, you have to take your music to the people and hit the road in all directions possible. Fortunate for us.

The evening opens with Lowe's touring keyboard player Geraint Watkins as support. "We can't afford a support band," says at one point. After we laugh he continues " may well laugh!", he says referring to the size of the crowd. Most people tonight haven't heard Geraint sing before, but his combination of jazz, boogie, old school rhythm & blues and Cajun and a voice like smooth gravel will mean there will be a bunch of us searching out his CD's. The entire audience is eating from the palm of his hand less then half way into his set.

After a short break Nick Lowe arrives and treats us to a couple of acoustic solo numbers Stoplight Roses, from his latest album The Old Magic and his classic Heart from Nick The Knife from 1982. Right from the start it is obvious this is going to be a special night. These days it is extremely rare to see a singer so aware of his own voice, that he allows it to do all the heart work on it's own merits, without straining and having too many effects or sledge-hammering an audience with volume. His voice is rich and textured and put simply, he is a fantastic singer. Somebody yells out "Happy Birthday Nick" as it is his 64th birthday, when we attempt a quick audience version of Happy Birthday to You, Nick is quick to good naturedly wave it away.

As his band joins him on the stage he tells us he has a new album out. "I know what you're thinking, why do they do it? You come along to hear the songs you know and they play a bunch of new songs. Well let me assure you these songs have been tested by experts and they are really very good and will blend seamlessly in with the songs you may already know." Nick Lowe wouldn't lie to us. All the new songs really are 'really very good' and apart from being a great singer and raconteur, Lowe is an incredibly underrated songwriter. Yes people know his best known songs, but almost every song he performs tonight is classic A Grade material. You could be forgiven for believing they were written by Bacharach & David, Leiber & Stoller, Ellie Greenwich or a team in the Brill building. He tells stories of love and loss, heartbreak and hurt and delivers them with a melancholia, poison or joy depending on what song it is.

So the set is peppered with old favourites like Raging Eyes and Cruel To Be Kind, but many of tonight's high points come from newer songs. I Live On A Battlefield, I Read a Lot and House for Sale are all crushing tales of lost love. But then there's beautiful and touching songs like the excellent Somebody Cares For Me, shows Nick is not all about the heartache and pain. He pulls out a sterling version of Tower of Strength the 1961 hit for Gene MacDaniels (in the USA) and Frankie Vaughan (in the UK). It is so surprising and joyous it takes us off guard. The set finishes with a great slowed down version of I Knew The Bride When She Used to Rock'n'Roll.

Nick returns with Geraint to do one of Geraint's own songs Only A Rose. A toe-tapping version of When I Write The Book, is followed by his best known song What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love & Understanding. Written by Nick when he was only nineteen, made popular by his long time buddy Elvis Costello, it is the most intelligent non-hippy, anti-war song in pop music history. Hearing one of my all time favourite songs performed by it's original voice, is a treat indeed. The encore concludes with Tokyo Bay. Nick returns with an acoustic guitar and plays a dazzling version of Costello's Alison before bidding us a fond fair well.

Shortly after the lights go up a group of people hoping to say hello are ushered backstage, where Basher (as he is affectionately known) signed albums, posed for photographs and shared his birthday cake with the die-hards. A lovely end to a lovely gig.

words & photos : Ian Bell

Stoplight Roses (solo acoustic)

Heart (solo acoustic)

What Lack of Love Has Done

Raging Eyes

Lately I've Been Letting Things Slide

Has She Got a Friend

I Trained Her To Love Me

I Live on a Battlefield

I Read a Lot

Cruel to be Kind


Sensitive Man

Somebody Cares For Me

House for Sale

Tower of Strength

Without Love

I Knew The Bride

Only a Rose

When I Write The Book

Peace Love and Understanding

Tokyo Bay

Alison (solo acoustic)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012




The Vagabond

Garden of Unearthly Delights

7pm til March 18

It's been a crazy twelve months for the boys from AOA. Formed in Sydney and now based in LA and touring the world. Their YouTube video for their medley of four chord songs was seen by over 30 million people. Some, but not all, of those 30 million people are in a big tent in the Garden of Unearthly Delights tonight. When you enter the Vanguard to see Axis of Awesome the stage is dominated by three huge banners of Lee, Jordan and...the kid from Jerry Maguire. It is the first of many jibes at Benny's diminutive size. The show's title World Tour 2006, is a sneaky nod to the fact that it is a 'best of' show of their last three Fringe shows. Partially one suspects because their audience has grown so quickly many here tonight haven't seen this stuff yet, and those that have are happy to revisit favourites. So favourites like Bird Plane and Can You Hear The Fuckin' Music Comin' Out of my Car are mixed with new songs far too funny for me to spoil the jokes of. Needless to say there is an epic song about a bespectacled wizard and another about an inflatable man. Four songs is here too and Jordan, Lee and Chicken Little are an Axis of actual Awesome which you should get to anyway you can.

Ian Bell


Lindsay Webb


Rhino Room

til March 18th

I see a lot of stand up comedy. A lot. Much of it is okay to very good, much of it is patchy, with good bits and not so good bits. Every now and again you come across a stand up who is head and shoulders above the pack. A comedian who is in complete control of his material and his audience, who interacts with people and takes the show in unexpected directions and is consistently funny for their whole set. A comedian who writes great gags, who is extremely likeable on stage and who can break up an entire room with a single facial gesture or even a pause. A comedian who is at the very top of their game. Lindsay Webb is such a comedian. This Brisbane comedian is nothing short of a complete pleasure from start to finish. He has great jokes that catch you off guard. Great timing and the fact that something like 14 Fringe judges came to see his show (the average is four) means he is a good contender to be walking away with some of this years Fringe Awards. If you can still get tickets you'll be glad you did!

Ian Bell




Rhino Room

til March 18th

It's a bit hard to explain UK comedian Andrew O'Neill to the uninitiated. Well he's a comedian. He's really funny but loves death/black metal. Oh yeah and he's a transvestite. None of these things should stop you going to see Alternative. Absolutely the best thing I've seen him do, and I've liked everything I've seen him do. He takes the piss out of himself and various other subcultures ("Some fat girls got cold legs tonight by the look of these red velvet curtains"). He sings weird little songs, tells great stories and even when the show hits an awkward bump in the middle, his recovery is so professional and charming that no harm is done. The bump? He asks somebody to turn their bright phone off and they reply "I'm recording". O'Neill replies "That is the worst possible thing you could have said" and is astounded as the rest of us that he then has to explain why it not alright to record his work without his permission. HE bounces back stronger than ever. Last years show has some bits that were a little too dark for some people, but this year Andrew O'Neill, black metal tranny stand up has well and truly nailed it.

Ian Bell



Still Life

Cinema Nova (early) / Umbrella Revolution (late)

til March 18

His last show was produced by Noel Fielding from The Mighty Boosh. It's worth mentioning because he shares some of the same absurdist humour as The Boosh. The lights go down and Paul Foot starts the off stage announcement, but it goes so well that he seems reluctant to start the actual show. He spends five minutes out of sight debating with himself wether people would prefer to enjoy a continuing off stage announcement instead of his actual show. When he does appear it's not on the stage but in the audience who he proceeds to get close up and personal with whilst animatedly discussing the pros and cons of celebrity cockerel sanctuaries and giving us a run down of how the show will run, once he starts it. I was in stitches for most of the night, but it wasn't for everybody and there were a few walk outs. But those that stayed absolutely loved it.

Ian Bell

Friday, March 9, 2012




Funny Pork


8pm til March 10th

Playing your Fringe show in a tent (in this case Funny Pork) in a noisy garden venue (in this case Gluttony) can pose some problems for the most seasoned of Fringe veterans. Extraneous noise from show rides, vendors flogging hot dogs, even bleed form other shows in progress. James McCann is one of my favourites of the new wave of Adelaide comedians who I suspect will have a long and interesting career in the comedic world. Awaiting My Moustache is his first Fringe show and he's off to a really strong start.

It's a brave move to start your show by announcing it has been cancelled and is being replaced by an Avant-Garde theatre piece. It is of course James, who makes an unusual entrance, before 'revealing' it was him all along! His material is smart and his on stage boy/man personae extremely likeable. He has extremely funny material about the Rundle Mall street preachers, being a student, growing up and interactions with the opposite sex. He does seem to lose his in the middle, with the aforementioned outside noise a clear distraction derailing his narrative briefly. But it is only this same noise that provides him with his best ad lib of the night when he pauses for a second, a disembodied voice from another tent declares clearly "He's a lovely little performer", James nods in the direction of the voice and says "Thank you very much!". The voice was correct by the way. Not much of his season left, so bump him up your list of shows to see.

Ian Bell

Monday, March 5, 2012




Crown & Anchor

Wed - Sat, 6pm til Mar 10

Yes it's an odd kind title for a show but he's an odd kind of fellow. Adelaide stand-up Chris Knight has an utterly charming way about him and a full an impressive beard. He also has a lot of strange ideas which he shares with the audience through solid material, reviews of fringe shows that don't exist, pop culture references, a love of lists and some thoroughly endearing dance moves. It is his first solo Fringe show and a couple of minor opening night tech issues aside, Knight has a really interesting and hugely funny show, not to mention some fantastic haiku's. The show's title is explained and there are actually yummy snacks for audience members at the end. Odd Fusion = Lovely show.

The spruced up Cranker has new stage curtains a lick of paint (and has possibly been disinfected) and scrubs up rather well as a Fringe venue this year. Well done chaps.

Ian Bell




Umbrella Revolution

Garden of Unearthly Delights

Sun Mar 4 - one show only.

It seems a bit weird that a purple puppet with a head like a testicle would deliver one of this Fringe's most fantastic shows. But that's exactly what Randy (usually seen with his human partner Sammy J) has done with his Randy is Sober. Sounds like for a puppet Randy was quite the drinker and when he gave up the firewater, he decided that wouldn't be hard enough by itself, so he gave up smoking and embarked on a long distance relationship all at once. He was already a vegetarian.

A near full house is completely captivated by Randy from the second he appears on stage (obviously he doesn't 'walk' on stage) and for a full hour he has us in stiches with his rapid-fire, hilarious material, dance moves and the slightest tilt of the head. His impersonation of Stephen Hawkings one of the piss-funniest things I have seen this Fringe. His audience interaction is priceless. "Am I looking at you? These eyes don't work!" and unscheduled biology lesson ("You all know where the perineum is right?", "Nipples?", horrified Randy "I think it's just as well we're having this little chat") is fantastic. The show itself is the story of his journey to sobriety and a bit of a love story to his lush days gone by.

You forget that Randy is a puppet, even when he is reminding you. And the fact that he is so captivating is all down to his close friend Heath McIvor, who is pretty much a frickin' genius. A puppeteer par excellence, with impeccable comic timing, lightning fast reflexes and great material McIvor breathes more than life into his purple protégé. An hour whizzes by way too fast.

Ian Bell

Wednesday, February 29, 2012



Mostly Glitter & Girls

Rhino Room

7pm & 9:30pm Sundays & Mondays only til Mar 12th

Sell out seasons in 2010 and 2011 have already proven that Adelaide's Burlesque Beauties have carved a place in Adelaide's heart. Their new show Mostly Glitter & Girls continues this success with a show that is classy, sexy and extremely funny. Outside the venue Svetlanka Seczskittenya is teetering around on impossibly high (and terrifyingly studded) heels, cracking a bullwhip to let the audience know it is time for the show to start. Upstairs the Burlesque Beauty girls are already in the room as the audience enters, each is a vision in lingerie, masks and fans. When the girls take the stage for their first number (Katy Perrys Peacock), they are soon joined by bearded Irish funny man Dave Comedy whose facial expressions while attempting to join in the dancing are worth the price of admission by themselves. Callan, the reason the show isn't called 100% Girls & Glitter, acts as host and MC and introduces the talented BB ladies as they take the stage.

Gorgeous blonde pin-up girl Miss Lolly Dolly get's things off to a traditional burlesque start with a sensational and classic fan dance. Reigning Miss Burlesque Lyra Le Belle & Bollywood temptress Radha Leigh are the powerhouse duo behind this tassle twirling troupe of talented performers. They work really well together and alone. There are afro'ed disco dancing, Leigh's Bollywood number is amazing and Le Belle's playful Lion Sleeps Tonight routine is the true essence of burlesque. There is sometimes confusion about exactly what the difference between burlesque and stripping is. They both have girls and music and there is often disrobing, but the simple answer is burlesque is more about the suggestion than the pants off full frontal nudity of the stripper. There is humour, playfulness in burlesque and it's more about being sensual than sexual. Don't misunderstand me, the girls are all breath taking and they each bend and move in ways that have pulses racing, but it's never smutty or crass.

Guest performer Luna Eclipse from fellow Adelaide burlesque troupe Peaches and Gin rocks the roof off the Rhino with a perfect Genie routine, full of great comic timing, knowing over exaggerated winks and tassels that seem individually powered no matter where they are stuck. The finale has to be seen because it will simultaneously blow your mind and split your sides. Adelaide should be really proud to have such a world class troupe of talented ladies based here.

They have shows at 7pm and 9:30pm every Sunday and Monday til the end of the Fringe at the Rhino Room.

Ian Bell



Hannah Wants a Wife

Rhino Room

8pm til March 4

Each time I see Hannah Gadsby she is better than the last. She is deadpan and whip smart, thoroughly engaging and extremely funny. Recently her fan base has expanded considerably from being Adam Hills offsider on In Gordon Street Tonight.

Hannah has a Fine Arts degree which she hasn't been using much lately, unless you count that Artscape shows she made about the National Gallery of Victoria for ABC-TV. But let's say, for the sake of this review that she hasn't been, her new show Hannah Wants A Wife gives her a great opportunity to do so. The tiny stage of The Rhino Room is dominated by a large print of a painting by Jan van Eyck from 1434 called the Arnolfini Portrait. For hundreds of years this portrait has been seen as an actual marriage contract, with every tiny detail a symbolizing and detailed story about the people in the painting, their standing and lives. Throughout the show Hannah uses the painting and all that is known about it, to illustrate that everything is not as it would appear and not just in the artwork. She deftly uses the painting as a reference point for talking about gay marriage, time travel and how awkward it can be when heterosexual blokes come into contact with somebody like Hannah who...well...bats for the other team. Great writing, engaging and laugh out loud funny story teller. Hannah Wants a Wife is excellent. Hurry last days!

Ian Bell.




Umbrella Revolution

7pm til March 18

When I first glimpsed BARRY MORGAN two years ago I knew we were going to get along famously. The man with toothiest smile since the Osmonds, the cheesiest safari suit since my Grandad and the quickest keyboard fingers since Barry Hall (obscure 1970's Hammond player reference). Since he turned up on Spicks and Specks a couple of times, his audience has grown by leaps and bounds and we now find Barry's demonstration of the Hammond Aura Classic organ in the huge Umbrella Revolution pavilion in the Garden of Unearthly Delights. There are a lot of interested shoppers here today, to learn the finer points of this beautiful, state of the art instrument and for a few lucky punters a personal lesson from Barry himself in his famous "one finger method".

Morgan is a fantastic comic creation of course, the fantastic 1972 hair cut and moustache, the biggest smile in showbiz and he bangs out every conceivable double entre about 'organs' you could imagine. It should also be said that Barry is actually an incredible musician. That he is being an incredible musician on one of the most kitsch of all instruments isn't a deal breaker, it does in fact it makes it that much more fantastic. There is however a thin line between a parody of a guy playing cheesy hammond organ and a guy just playing cheesy Hammond organ. Morgan stays just inside that line and when he drops Turning Japanese in his Barry Around The World section, it is comedy genius. When it comes time to see who will take advantage of his sales pitch, there is a truly uncomfortable section while Barry waits for the phone to ring. It's a great bit of theatre. But Barry can't stay sad for long. I wonder if the future will see him playing much more contemporary tunes on his cherished Aura Classic. I could see Barry killing Single Ladies or Party Rock Anthem this time next year. At the end of the show Barry heads outside to shake hands, sign autographs and pose for photos with his fans. I love this guy!

Ian Bell


The Psychology of Laughter
Rhino Room
9:45pm til March 3

Mr Dave Callan is the quintessential Adelaide Fringe performer. He comes to Adelaide each year does his own always excellent show, then turns up everywhere there is to turn up. Rhino Late Show, Chopper Late Night, Comedy Gala, Imaan's Bigger Than Jesus, Comic Strip plus this year he is a part of the Burlesque Beauties show Mostly Glitter & Girls show (I suspect he is the reason it's not just called Totally Glitter & Girls). He's like an omni-present comedy Jesus, but with better jokes. Which is all the better for us. He is one of the most likeable stand-up's on the planet. He doesn't do nasty material and doesn't treat his audience like idiots. Last year he did a show in Edinburgh and while he was there he stumbled across a book from 1913 called The Psychology of Laughter. That book and the 'wisdom' contained therein were so disturbing they have become the backbone of Callan's new show. Some of 'psychology' involved makes sense and is insightful, but great chunks of it's pages are crammed with the kind of blatantly racist and sexist jokes that Dave is the polar opposite of. In his skillful hands he uses the sheer inappropriateness of this work to turn the ridicule on the book itself. Some of the contents so offensive he actually spat tea all over a particularly off colour page. There is a great section where he compares how things were 100 years ago to how they are now. It's extremely funny and has the audience in stitches. Partly the show is a semi-deconstruction of what makes people laugh, mostly it is a show to make people laugh a great deal. The run has sold extremely well and finishes this weekend get there if you can.

Ian Bell

Tuesday, February 28, 2012



Idolize Spiegeltent

Garden of Unearthly Delights

11:30pm Saturdays Only during Fringe

So it's Saturday night in the Garden, February 2012 and people are looking for the best party on the planet. It's right here in the Idolize.

Sydney DJ Tom Loud has built himself a Time Machine. A Hot Dub Time Machine. It's an intricate device powered by dancing and through Hot Dub power we travel back in time to 1954 and he creates a year by year dance party like you have never seen before. Through skilful DJ-ing of both audio and video projections, the joint is jumping from the get go. Starting in the rock'n'roll era, through the British Invasion, Motown, funk, psych rock, disco, grunge, hip hop, rave and right up to dub step. Tom is a DJ after my own heart with the breadth of musical knowledge and the sense to know people like to dance to more than one style of music. And with HDTM it means he can literally cherry pick the best music of the last 60 years and make EVERYBODY dance. Elvis, Beatles, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Doors, Pink Floyd, New Order, MC Hammer, Hilltop Hoods, all the way up to Skrillex. Guaranteed your favourite things to dance to will be in the mix somewhere. He throws in some TV themes and other pop culture references along the way, and one of my favourite bits was Sammy J and Dave Callan losing their minds when he dropped the Theme from Ship to Shore into the mix.

At the start of each decade we are briefed by Tom's video assistant. She informs us that we need to keep the energy levels up or we could get trapped in 1989 "..and nobody wants that". We can get extra power along the way by dancing exceptionally well or doing specific moves for each decade.

The audience was sadly not as mixed and varied as the set list. Mostly young hipster clubber types with too much attitude you might find at Parklife or Future Music Festivals. Which is a shame. Just because you dress in groovy clothes and have one of those 'club' hair-do's doesn't make you any less of a douche bag. Still it's a big pavilion and it's easy to re-position yourself round the edges with plenty of places to bust a move. Close to us there is a group of four quite elderly people who aren't doing much dancing themselves, but who are clearly enjoying watching the young people enjoy themselves.

The time appropriate video images are a great addition and do make it more of a show, than just watching a DJ. That said though Loud is an Energizer Bunny on the decks pumping the crowd, taking hi-fives from people and dancing up a storm. It is an epic journey back to 2012 and takes almost two and a half hours to complete. By the end everybody is covered in sweat, exhausted and they leave with big dumb grins on their faces. Yours truly included.

A fantastic party that you should not miss during this Fringe.


Stephen Cummings

Idolize Speigeltent

25 Feb 2012

Everyone occasionally has a bad day at the office. You missed your alarm or the bus, there's no milk for your coffee, the meeting you rushed in for is cancelled.

Stephen Cummings is having a bad day at the office. Except it's night time and the office is the Idolize. He thanks us for coming to his "..annual trip to Adelaide.. and maybe my last." The audience are veterans of his 30+ year career and have come with a hunger for older songs from his time as front man for the terrifically good The Sports and an interest in the new. Tonight it's just Stephen and his guitar and things get off to a good start with Fell From a Great Height, originally a duet with Toni Childs released in 1994. He is sounding great and the song is excellent. Skeleton Key, from 2001, is followed by a quite long, rambling, complicated and not fantastically funny joke about dead church bell ringers and Nick Cave. It is the first sign that things may be going astray tonight. Throughout the set he berates himself for forgetting chord changes and lyrics, and apologises to the audience repeatedly. "I'm having a shit night, I'm sorry.". A number of times he reaches a point of a song where he swears and rather than picking up at the trouble spot, he starts the whole song over. It's a shame because the entire audience is on his side and his choice of solo material is a treat for long time fans with songs The Lost Girl and Blue Hour getting a much appreciated airing.

Inevitably somebody yells out Boys What Did The Detectives Say, The Sports breakthrough single from 1978. Cummings bangs through a terrific version of it with great confidence. She Set Fire To The House from the Lovetown album also has some problems. A couple of times he uses a machine that makes a rhythmic thud track to play along with, but he seems unhappy with it and has trouble making it do what he wants it to do. At one point he says "I'm going to sit up here til I get one of these songs fucking right!".

He debuts two songs off the forthcoming new album Reverse Psychology and both of them (Stupidity and All Day) demonstrate he still has the goods as a singer/songwriter. By now it's 11 o'clock and I am hyper aware that these Fringe venues in the Garden have pretty tight turn around times and shows that are queued up back to back. But he starts playing Strangers on a Train, another great Sports classic, so I'm not complaining. This too is a victim of the thud box, and half way through he aborts it and starts over with just the guitar. I'm becoming aware that the Idolize staff are now trying to get his attention, sending people down front to try and catch him between songs. There's a flashlight from the back of the room and at one point they turn the house lights up. However Stephen is concentrating and misses all of these hints that it might be time to wrap things up. The audience is mostly unaware of this because he is playing Sports classics like Suspicious Minds, and an aborted How Come. When that one crashes into a heap someone down front says "Okay Stephen one more Who Listens to the Radio", and he happily complies.

It was a far from perfect gig, but everybody is entitled to a bad day at the office. I hope we see you again next year Mr Cummings.

Ian Bell

Sunday, February 26, 2012



Doing Stuff

Rhino Room

Season Ended

Triple J favourite Tom Ballard tells us his show is about politics but we shouldn't worry because ".the usual dick and gay jokes you have come to expect from a Tom Ballard show will still be here." And they are, but Doing Stuff turns out to be more textured than you might think. It is a show as much about sexual and personal politics as it is about the other kind. I saw this show the day Rudd resigned and this was manna from heaven for a political comedian. Over an hour he covers the Labour leadership spill, gay marriage and some very disturbing tales of the grossest gay sex acts, both in general and his own specifically. Are they gross - OH Yeah they are, but the point is not that they not gross acts because they are between same sex participants. They are just flat out hilariously disgusting no matter who was involved. I'll spare you the details, trust me it's better that way. Ballard is fantastically likeable on stage, his material is really strong, cleverly written and delivered with boyish charm from a terrific performer.

Ian Bell