The Doug Anthony Allstars [DAAS] – Live On Stage!
Brisbane Powerhouse, Powerhouse Theatre
October 28 – 31
It’s been about 25 years since I last saw international comedy team The Doug Anthony All Stars on stage and during that time a lot has changed. Tim Ferguson is ‘a little big sick’ with Multiple Sclerosis, taking to the stage in wheelchair and a silk-dusted Paul McDermott is now the tallest in the group for the guitarist has changed; with Richard Fidler unavailable due to his “In Conversation” commitments, a somewhat subdued Flacco (Paul Livingston) has taken up the enigmatic quasi-guitarist role. And while there is revisit of All Star jokes of yesteryear, the result is a whole new level of hilarity and bizarreness, much to the delight of the ‘packed to the rafters’ Powerhouse crowd.
The fascist fashion and virtual violence are gone and now there are apologies to be made. But they don’t last long, and if there is a politically correct line, the Doug Anthony All Stars go ahead and cross it many times. Although songs feature throughout, the show’s greatest comedy comes from Tim’s random (and frequently filthy) feminist poetic imagery, observations and recollections of their vagabond Canberra busking days and beyond. The show doesn’t shy away from his MS; in fact it is actively incorporated into the set through inclusion of airport service anecdotes and hilarious enactment within the delivery of ‘Dead Elvis’. This is a show in which the performers are clearly having a good time, particularly in their audience banter, presenting for over two hours and then graciously autographing and posing for pictures with fans post-show. There is also much ad-libbing and genuine reactions to each other’s observations and antics.
Although by appearance they are no longer young, the All Stars are just as abrasive as always. Indeed, the content is as obscene as ever as they trio revisit singalong songs like ‘Maria’ from the apex of their cannon, updated to include all range of political ‘c**ks’. Indeed, it’s far from obscure surrealist work, as they tackle all range of topical material including a Todd Carney re-enactment and an uncomfortably catchy Ebola song. And in every instance, Paul’s voice resonates as beautifully as ever, from the shocking declarations of ‘I F**k Dogs’, to the Celtic strains of ‘The Auld Triangle’ (with or without Tim’s triangle accompaniment).
If you are a fellow commie for Christ and wanna spill the blood of a hippy, you cannot afford to miss this reminder of the dysfunctional delight that was DAAS, including a revelation, of sorts, as to their name’s origin. Their songs are comedy perfection (which must be why they have never been covered) and their mockery is highly-entertaining in its insanity. And as they begin a resounding finale ‘Warsong’ with video backdrop reminder of them at their height of popularity, it is clear that, though they might be on ‘the other side of the hill’, they will, forever, be the young ones.