Bush best

In The Warm Room – The Music of Kate Bush 1978 – 1980 (Electric Moon)

Brisbane Powerhouse, Powerhouse Theatre

June 9

josh daveta

When a show is billed as “the voices of eight seasoned cabaret performers will shine Bush’s creativity, imagination and innovation”, expectations are high. Appropriately so, given Electric Moon’s previous shows, and as-anticipated, realised from its opening, beautifully-mournful number, ‘Moving’, by Josh Daveta, with ethereal additions from Bethan Ellsmore. And then there is Alison St Ledger who sounds just like the iconic and unique artist in the meta-music ‘Wow’.

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It is not all whimsical, however, with Daniel Hack rocking ‘Don’t Push Your Foot on the Heartbreak’. Indeed, there is something for everyone, from everyone; the stage is cluttered with collaborators (#inagoodway) and the show is all the better for it. The ten piece band, for example, does an excellent job in evoking a variety of moods and genre influences, as eclectic as its source songstress’ musical catalogue.

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Highlights include Daveta’s rollicking ‘Oh to be in Love’ and a haunting ‘’Oh England My Lionheart’ from an imposing (as always) Sandro Colarelli. And there is also Lucinda Shaw’s guttural ‘The Kick Inside’ and later symphonic post-apocalyptic ‘Breathing’, and a wonderful ‘Wuthering Heights’ from Bethan Ellsmore, in nod to Bush’s trademark cinematic and literary references and as example of Ellsmore’s vocal prowess.

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In each instance, the songs in the warm room are almost shared anew as the performers each bring something different to bringing out Kate Bush’s very best. But one would expect no less from Sandro Colarelli, Lisa Crawley, Josh Daveta, Bethan Ellsmore, Daniel Hack, Lucinda Shaw and Alison St Ledger… the best bringing out Bush’s best in make of an infectiously-entertaining evening.

Photos c/o – Lachlan Douglas

Superlative songstresses

Women in Voice

Judith Wright Centre, Performance Space

November 3 – 12

Brisbane’s iconic cabaret institution “Women in Voice” is about celebrating individuality of entertainers from different musical backgrounds and generations. As such, its performers not only become backup for each other’s numbers, but are left to independently select songs. …. All except Bethan Ellsmore who has stepped in to the show as replacement for Sahara Beck at only 24 hours’ notice. Joining this year’s formidable line up of talented soloists, Alicia Cush, Leah Cotterell and Allison St Ledger, Ellsmore provides a pure-voiced set of songs beginning with a beautiful take of Split Enz’s ‘I Hope I Never’ and soon has the audience swaying along to the sounds of ‘Blue Velvet’. It is a selection that sits well against the night’s eclectic musical line-up.

The show opens with a melodic take on The Church’s signature ‘Under The Milky Way’, as Alicia Crush takes the audience through a musical study of home. Proving her immense talent, she transports listeners through operatic highs and smooth country sounds before finishing with a jazzy Bublé number, inset with her own flute solo.  The soulful Leah Cotterell then roars the audience to intermission in a set that includes a mix of original and well-known numbers… including another Oz-rock classic with The Angels’ ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’, complete with expletive-laden audience response.

The packed opening night audience, full of ‘girls night out’ groups, loved every minute of music and more. As emcee, Judy Hainsworth entertains in jester role, complete with changing brightly coloured, motley costume, taking the audience on a tongue-in-cheer tour of the year that has been and a musical recap of the life of a performer on tour, amongst other journeys. Transporting audiences to another time or place is part of the magic of live performance and the show’s final set, from “Women in Voice” royalty Alison St Ledger, does exactly this as she takes the audience on a fabulously fun trip down retro-memory lane to Jackson Five and Bee Gee boogie, completed with disco dudette while suit.

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As always, “Women in Voice” is an immensely entertaining musical experience, thanks also to the accomplished live band (under Musical Director Stephen Russell). When the superlative songstresses come together to look towards the good things to come in a concluding Cat Stevens’ ‘Peace Train’ it is a glorious, goosebumpy moment proving that more than just another song concert, “Women in Voice” is a celebration of talent, that, like any good celebration, is best enjoyed when shared with ‘the more the merrier’ as a mantra.

Stardust sensation

Ziggy Stardust (Electric Moon)

Brisbane Powerhouse, Powerhouse Theatre

June 4

It is often said that the simple ideas can be the best. And Electric Moon’s “Ziggy Stardust” is evidence of this. The show, returned to the Brisbane Powerhouse as part of the Queensland Cabaret Festival, takes audiences on a glam rock journey though performance of a masterpiece David Bowie album in its entirety.

Bowie’s 1972 concept album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (often shortened to Ziggy Stardust) is a seminal work, consistently considered one of the greatest albums of all time. Its popularity is confirmed by this show’s sold-out and additional performances, both as part of the Cabaret Festival and in its Melt Queer Arts Festival appearance earlier in the year.

The appeal is understandable. The album includes a string of hits, all of which appear in this rock ‘n; roll cabaret spectacular, performed by a stellar who’s who cast of Brisbane musicians20 performers including eight lead vocalists and a dynamic array of 12 musicians playing: strings, percussion, woodwind and rocking lead guitars.

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The songs tell the tale of Bowie’s alter ego Ziggy Stardust, a rock star who acts as a messenger for extra-terrestrial beings. It begins with Lucinda Shaw’s Five Years’ about the looming end of the world, which she bulids into a chaotic crescendo. It is an epic introduction that sets up showcase for the particularly impressive female talent on show. Emma Dean is ethereal in her gentle but stirring ‘Starman’ and Alison St Ledger serves up a solid ‘It Ain’t Easy’, capturing its comparative darkness and rock sensibility.

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And then there is the newcomer to the group, Maria DeVita, whose infectious, full throttle rock and roll energy is explosive in ‘Hang on to Yourself’ as she thrashes about the stage with Joan Jett punk attitude. And also of note is the Pivitol ‘Ziggy Stardust’, which introduces Daniel Hack’s extraordinary vocals, including moments when his voice mimics the compelling drama of Bowie’s unique sound.

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From start to finish, “Ziggy Stardust” is a show of passion and artistry, polished to perfection. Director James Lees has taken on a formidable task, especially following Bowie’s death and the show has accordingly become about honouring the artist as much as celebrating Ziggy and along with the album. There is presentation also of other Bowie material including ‘The Jean Genie’, ‘Life on Mars’ and ‘All the Young Dudes’ amongst other hits, ending with the Allison St Ledger led ‘Heros’, one of Bowie’s most inspirational songs, delivered with emotional intensity in its haunting strings introduction and belting rock and roll finish.

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Although entertaining, these later sections lack the impact of the album’s numbers, which serve as celebration of sequencing as a whole as much as discrete song selections. It would be brilliant to see a show that instead chronicles through two albums, either side of an intermission. This is but a small suggestion for what is a fabulous show of this 1970s cultivated musical statement. “Ziggy Stardust” is a sensationally good time with the legacy of one of the greatest glittery superstars, that, like any good album, can be revisited again and again without disappointment.

Photos c/o –  https://www.facebook.com/electricmoonevents