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

Daveta Divadom

Like Mariah (Josh Daveta)

New Globe Theatre

March 24

Despite the infamous New Year’s Eve performance that never quite was or the drama of her “Mariah’s World” reality tv adventure, few can dispute Mariah Carey’s massive and magical voice. And from the moment of Josh Daveta’s ‘Sweet Fantasy’ entrance into “Like Mariah”, there is indeed a spirit that envelopes the room as audience and performers join together in celebration of everyone’s favourite diva, Mimi (just don’t dare mention Whitney Houston).

This is a show full of fun from the bouncy pop melody of ‘Touch My Body’ with swinging piano accompaniment from Musical Director Parmis Rose and audience ‘volunteer’ muse, to a discoesque ‘Emotions’ with channel of backing vocalist Cassie George’s incredibly high upper range vocals, amongst its 16 song set list. And when phone torches are held aloft in sway to the encore of ‘Hero’ there is perhaps no more fitting testament to the complete satisfaction of its audience members than the standing ovation that soon follows.

Those who have seen Daveta before know what a versatile performer he is. In “Like Mariah” he is as charismatic as ever in between song banter and audience interaction. And his vocals are sensational as he goes from a high octave belt to an almost whisper within the smallest of space; his soaring ‘Vision of Love’, Carey’s lauded debut single from her eponymous debut album, is worth the price of admission alone, full of cresendoes and a spectacular belting bridge.

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Songs and sentiment journey through all range of emotions, meaning that the smorgasbord setlist includes something for everyone. From a riff-filled, audience clap and sing-along ‘Always Be My Baby’ to a moving, slow-tempo ballad ‘My All’, Daventa’s controlled  bright and clear  vocals serve as the show’s biggest star, sympathetic as they are to each individual song’s key signature, tempo and style… which is entirely appropriate for a show that tributes an artist who holds record as having the most Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s by a solo artist (18), the most weeks at No. 1 of any act (79) and the chart’s longest-running No. 1 of all-time, ‘One Sweet Day,’ with Boyz II Men (16 weeks).

With the support of Rose and backing vocalists Lachlan Geraghty, Aya Valentine and Cassie George, Daveta has created something very special that will hopefully be shared again with Brisbane audiences sooner rather than later.

Hedwigging out

Hedwig 15 (Electric Moon in partnership with Brisbane Queer Film Festival and Brisbane Powerhouse)

Brisbane Powerhouse, Powerhouse Theatre

January 28

Sometimes it takes seeing a movie on big screen to truly appreciate its greatness. And “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is a great movie, iconic in its incredible tell of an ‘internationally ignored’ rocker from communist East Berlin who sings about his manhood being cut off in a messy operation, hence the title of both the film and the  band of Eastern-bloc musicians with whom Hansel, now Hedwig, tours the pit stops of America. Its screening and concert performance, “Hedwig 15” (in gala celebration of its 15th anniversary) as part of Brisbane Powerhouse’s Melt Festival celebration of queer arts and culture is reminder not only of its hilarity, but its soundtrack of explosive glam/punk sensibility.

Regardless of the still-light-outside starting time, sisters, brothers, misfits and all the others unite in celebration of the immortal white trash style icon with some even dressing in homage to the genderqueer singer. Certainly this is a unique event, complete with packets of gummy bears (in nod to American sugar-daddy soldier Luther’s enticement) placed about the stalls, a bar within the theatre and encouragement for audience members to move about during the show.

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And then, before the film’s credits have even finished rolling, the concert section of the show belts into being with Bertie Page’s take on ‘Tear Me Down’, which opens the soundtrack and sets the scene for Hedwig’s journey, starting as a slip of a girlyboy behind the Berlin Wall. Sando Colarelli too, brings a brazen rock energy to the liberating anthem ‘Angry Inch’, recreating the song’s vocals and later capturing the film’s essence of rock excess in a soon-to-be-torn-off chrysalis-like costume of plastic sheeting.

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The soundtrack alternates rock ballads and reminiscences as Hedwig searches for completion and a fully realised sense of self on road to becoming an ‘internationally ignored song stylist’ and things slow down to the more melodic during ‘Wig in a Box’, arguably the film’s musical pinnacle, during which Josh Daveta sings of Hedwig’s comfort in the transforming power of wigs, make-up and rock music with masterful vocals. Lucinda Shaw, too, brings impressive vocal energy and emotional resonance to the fiercely determined ‘The Origin of Love’ and its deeply tender explanation of the desperate desire to become whole and connected with other humans. And her share of the soundtrack’s anthemic reconciliatory final song, ‘Midnight Radio’, is simply sublime in its toast to world’s enigmatic souls and the power of being our authentic selves.

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The show’s killer soundtrack is skilfully supported by an all-star band led by James Lees with Shiv Zimmermann, John Meyer, Kevin Haigh and Parmis Rose, which allows each performer to bring their own artistry and embodiment of Hedwig’s characteristics to their selections. James Halloran, for example, is emotionally vulnerable in ‘The Long Grift’, a song that didn’t make the movie cut in its entirety but is a worthy inclusion for its highlight of how, during Hedwig’s vendetta against former partner Tommy, she becomes blinded to the feelings of the loved ones around her.

In the hands of Electric Moon, it is easy to see why this soundtrack has gained such a cult-status since its humble beginnings as a stage musical before movie. With only a ten song setlist, the ‘In Concert’ section of the show is over way too soon, much like Electric Moon’s last, “Ziggy Stardust”, outing. Still, its essential, sincere themes linger past its punk sensibilities with message about the hope of turning misfortune into personal power and celebration of the unique.

“Hedwig 15” like its namesake inspiration is rich in imagination and daring. The songs are explosive in their exploration of the ideas of ideology, love and destiny and they are delivered with the raw power and emotion required to have audience members on their feet Hedwigging-out in dance and sway with abandon at just 8pm, in mutual celebration of fact that we all either are or can be Hedwig.

Slumber party sass

Teenage Dreams (Brisbane Powerhouse & Troy Armstrong Management)

Brisbane Powerhouse, Visy Theatre

April 17 – 18

“I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing though the fire, ‘cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar.” With this, Josh Daveta begins his solo cabaret show “Teenage Dreams”. And roar he does, presenting audience members with a sassy showcase of his exceptional vocal talents.

The cabaret show features Daveta taking the audience on an emotional trip through breakups, hook-ups and bedroom romps, set to a diva soundtrack of Top 40 songs from Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Christina Aguilera, Britney, Beyonce and Gaga. Diva denominator aside, the songs work well together to expand the show’s moments, often becoming complete stories unto themselves into which the audience becomes absorbed, enticed by the delicious intimacy of their internal moments, as much as their juxtaposition with the buoyancy and bombast of the brasher comic numbers.

Daveta’s performance is full of personality, culminating in an energetic and fun ‘Single Ladies’ routine. He easily takes the audience from humour to heart-break, such is his vocal nuance and range. Whether scatting, piano playing or belting out a power ballad, Daveta’s versatility and talent are clear. Nothing is sacred as he engages with the audience through interaction and participation, showing how “Teenage Dreams” literally has a song for everyone.  The result is a crassy, sassy slumber party that will, as the final ‘Firework’ song suggests, leave you in awe. And like a good (albeit adults-only) slumber party, there’s no nodding off during this vibrant and humourous hour of musical entertainment;  it’s got onsies, donuts and a whole lot of good times to have you clapping and singing along, and leaving in joyous cheer.

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Photo c/o – https://www.facebook.com/dmayes19