Tag: Joni Mitchell

Review: ANGELA HARDING is Just Like You… Only Different

The finest Australian cabaret has to offer

By Myron My

Angela Harding’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival show Just Like You… Only Different takes the audience on a journey of the highs and lows of being a performer in the arts as well as touching on some more personal moments of Harding’s.

If she talks long enough then surely we’ll have something in common, Harding muses before beginning her first number for the night. Using a combination of original songs and some famous covers, her charismatic and endearing personality thus quickly spreads through the audience until we are a roomful of smiles and laughs.

Along for the ride is musical director and accompanist Mathew Frank, whose piano arrangements are flawless and add another dimension to the well-known songs that Harding performs, such as Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” and the sultry “At Last” by Etta James. The transitions between songs were smooth and well paced, giving us enough time to take in what we just heard and prepare us for the next brilliant tune.

Harding particularly shines with her original tunes, including the triple threat of being a “Singer, Actor, Dancer” whereupon she also takes to the piano. Seems to me Harding is more of a quadruple threat and should clearly add musician/song-writer to this list: “Silence” is a beautifully composed song and I don’t think anyone in the audience took a breath until that final note was sung.

The crowd almost brought the house down with their cheers as Harding sang her final number and I honestly have not heard an audience cheer like that for a very long time, except at sold-out large-scale music gigs.

Just Like You…Only Different is a joyous ride of Harding sharing her stories with her audience and no doubt deserves to be the winner of the 2011 Australian Cabaret Showcase. Keep an eye out for her future performances, for this lady belongs on stage.
 
Just Like You… Only Different was performed on the 20th – 21st July, 7:00pm at Chapel Off Chapel as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival 2012.

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REVIEW: Grant Newsome FROM BOTH SIDES NOW

More concert that cabaret, but an appealing performance

By Maxine Montegomery

“From Both Sides Now” – the Joni Mitchell song title in itself evokes thoughts of inner regret and struggles of the heart.

Grant Newsome’s debut show at The Butterfly Club takes its title from this very song, and sets up an expectation for the audience that they will be taken on an emotional journey with the performer.

Newsome has made a very bold choice in starting the show with Mitchell’s signature song. At the top of a show, we, the audience, know nothing about the person who stands before us – we have no background, no insight to the individual to be able to see the reality of the lyrics as reflected in their own experience. I felt that I was seeing the ‘public face’ of Newsome, rather than seeing the man himself. When he encored the number at the end of the night, he certainly gave the lyrics more candour. The hour-long show was closer in format to concert than solo cabaret, and I couldn’t help but wonder just how much more pathos the song may have carried had Newsome employed his own version of cabaret rhetoric to take the audience into his confidence and bring all the songs together as a whole.

Newsome presented a range of songs that trace the geography of his career, complemented by some of his personal favourites. The audience showed particular appreciation for “Sway”, and a very funky, swung rendition of Doris Day’s “Secret Love”. A fabulous performance of Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was heightened by the tremendous work of Newsome’s backing duo – Rowland Braché on piano and Rob Nicholls on double bass. Nicholls’ percussive use of the body of the bass during the Queen number may have been quite simple in execution, but it was a delight to watch and hear. Newsome introduced me (and the rest of the crowd) to a gem of a song called “Nathalie” by Gilbert Bécaud. It was in his delivery of the song that he had me fully engaged, for his telling of the story of the piece was very affecting – as he got caught up in the tale, so did I. “Nathalie” was followed by a tri-language rendition of “What Now, My Love?”. At this point in the night, he seemed to relax somewhat and a little of the showman peeled away, letting us see more of Newsome’s true self.

I would like to see Newsome use his voice to the extent of his technical abilities – he clearly has the ability to produce sustained vocal line, and I wish we had heard more of that from him. I can understand the singer wanting to show off his full vocal range by adding an extended melismatic passage to the end of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, but to then break the title word of the song due to the length of the custom-written phrase was disappointing to hear.

A born showman, Newsome looked the part in his golden-hued suit, and his infectious smile certainly completed the picture. It is very easy to see just how at home he would have been on stage at the Moulin Rouge in Paris.   I have no doubt that he has a whole range of experiences in his life which could be translated into a host of solo cabaret shows in the more intimate and personal sense of the genre suitable for a more intimate venue, and I look forward to seeing what he next creates.

From Both Side Now has its final showing at The Butterfly Club on Sunday May 6th at 6pm. For tickets, visit www.thebutterflyclub.com.

Review: THE BEST (AND WORST) of Queenie van de Zandt

A loveable and laughable performance

By Kate Boston-Smith

Queenie van de Zandt is a vocal powerhouse filled with warmth and goodwill who knows how to laugh, especially at herself.  Her 2011 Melbourne Cabaret Festival show The Best (and Worst) of Queenie van de Zandt is a fantastic stroll down memory lane. 

Though we, the audience, don’t know these memories firsthand, van de Zandt acknowledges her non-celebrity and celebrates it with gusto and humor using photos, promotional material and personal keepsakes.

With 22 years in the business she has a kaleidoscope of stories to share.  That said, this is not a show written to gloat or big-note (though she has the vocal strength do so should she wish). No, this is a story about her journey; her ups, downs, mistakes and ultimately her passion for singing and performing.  It is like she takes the audience by the hand into the living room for a cup of tea at an intimate family gathering, where she shares pictures, hilarious horror stories and laughter.

Van de Zandt is welcoming and generous, playful and cheeky.  Her song choice displays her incredible, self-taught, vocal ability. Her inspiring song choices include the likes of ABBA, Olivia Newton-John and Joni Mitchell to name a few. 

She commands the stage, yet allows for interaction, sharing the spotlight with her adoring audience.

As she playfully poked fun at her lack of notoriety, I couldn’t help but empathise.  Not knowing much about her before I walked into the show, I can honestly say I left feeling like an old-friend; such is the connection she has with us.

If you are looking for a beautiful, honest show about joy, heartache and renewal all told with warmth and humor then this is the cabaret for you.

Performed by Queenie van de Zandt with Lucy Bermingham accompanying.

Tonight & Sunday 24 July,  8.15pm

$40 / $37

The Incubator, Auspicious Arts,

228 Bank Street, South Melbourne