Rediscovering great Australian music, cabaret-style
By Bradley Storer
At the beginning of the evening the two performers, Mark Jones and Geraldine Quinn, were casual as they walked onstage through the audience. They chatted excitedly to one another, briefly pausing to tease three eager audience members sitting in the front row. This atmosphere continued throughout the performance, Mark and Geraldine bantering playfully with one another (and a particularly talkative group near the front) between songs.
Their highly polished performances stood in stark contrast to their informal stage manner. The concept behind this show was to uncover and explore the treasures of Australian song-writing which have been hidden or lost, figuratively, ‘under the bed’. There were a broad range of songs chosen, from Paul Kelly, John Williamson to Claire Bowditch as well as a few originals thrown in.
Geraldine Quinn is a highly charismatic performer, with a large range and a powerful voice. Mark Jones was the perfect foil to her flamboyant stage presence, responding to Geraldine’s continual attempts to make good-hearted jibes at him with a cheekily deadpan expression. With their natural chemistry onstage, the two were a joy to watch.
There were many highpoints during the evening. The first was an exquisite duet of Paul Kelly’s ‘Deeper Water’ which actually brought tears to the eyes of this reviewer. Later there was a suite of Australian murder ballads (not Nick Cave, surprisingly) which related to specific geographical locations in Australia.
Beginning with a hilarious duet about the Snowtown murders, the two took turns with individual songs – Mark sinisterly half-speaking, half-singing his section before seamlessly passing onto Geraldine who finished with an acoustic rendering of ‘Everything’s Turning to White’ which stunned with its simplicity and underplayed intensity. A surprising inclusion was a sprightly ode by Mick Thomas to the Australian sub-culture of the ‘Cave Clan’ – the concept of a real-life group of ‘subterranean Freemasons’ was unknown to me, and had apparently only been introduced to the performers when they discovered the song. Under the bed indeed!
While a fantastic night overall, a tighter focus needed to be present – sometimes the evening meandered as the performers took too long between songs to banter between themselves and the audience, and the show ended up going overtime and they were disappointingly forced to skip several songs to finish up. Other than this, it was an evening of amazing Australian music sung by two excellent performers which would be a great night for anyone (even those unfamiliar with a lot of Australian music).
Performances on Saturday 23rd, Sunday 24th July at 6:30pm
The Lamond Room, South Melbourne Town Hall
Tickets: Full $35/ Concession $32 @ www.melbournecabaret.com