Davina and the Vagabonds

June 12, 2022 | Posted by Guest Reviewer | Modern Music, MUSIC, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Adelaide Cabaret Festival, 11 June, 2022) [Davina and the Vagabonds, late to town thanks to post-Covid chaos in international flights, appeared at the Cabaret Festival on Saturday night, drawing from the past 100 years of American music, from Fats Domino and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to Aretha Franklin and Tom Waits. Reportedly, Davina has been compared to Etta James, Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday and Betty Boop, but in order to verify, The Varnished Culture had 2 guest reviewers in attendance who know a thing or three about past and contemporary music in this Dawning Age of Aquarius….

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Six the Musical

(Her Majesty’s Theatre, 27 May 2022) Six the Musical, a pop music retelling of the story of the wives of Henry the Eighth of England was royally received in London, New York and Sydney.  We are pleased to say that the Adelaide audience loved it just as much as Henry VIII adored Anne Boleyn, and not just at the beginning of it all. The capacity crowd cheered when the six wives appeared in a London pea-souper of dry ice mist and they were on their feet dancing when the queens gloriously asserted their individuality and agency at the end of…

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Lohengrin

May 26, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, OPERA, Opera, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Melbourne Arts Theatre, 21 May 2022) Lohengrin marked the end of Wagner’s ‘first phase’ and remains one of his loveliest operas, in musical terms (the overture alone is a gorgeous amuse-bouche)*. The story is, of course, very silly: Elsa (Emily Magee) is accused of doing away with her brother, heir to the Throne of Brabant, the charges levelled by nasty Telramund and his ‘handler,’ Ortrud (the very fine and sexy Simon Meadows and Elena Gabouri). King Heinrich (Daniel Sumegi) calls for divine intervention, and after some nervous foot-shuffling by the assembled knights, there, in a puff of swan feathers, is…

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Icehouse

Adelaide Oval’s Village Green, 8 February, 2022 ‘Icehouse’ were never really the techno-guys they were painted as – Nothing to Do from their first (best?) album (when they were ‘Flowers’) is a song Lou Reed would have liked to write and perform – and this terrific retrospective, conceived around the 40th anniversary of the inaugural release of Great Southern Land, written by Iva Davies in homage to Australia and its landscape while homesick on the band’s first overseas tour, showed how their hits were basically great rock/pop, performed by a band that is pretty much as cohesive and professional as…

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The Golden Cockerel

March 10, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, OPERA, Opera, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

By Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov/ Directed by Barrie Kosky (Adelaide Festival, 9 March 2022) Pushkin’s slight morality fable of the idiocy of war-mongering autocracy (1835) was taken up (1907) by Rimsky-Korsakov as a reflection of the faltering reign of Tsar Nicholas II, who made Joe Biden seem like Pericles. The so-called dark wit, surreal burlesque, and satirical messaging is, regrettably, lost in this production. A colossal, over-extravagant Russian in-joke makes a not very good opera…and Mr. Kosky has, with his peculiar genius, turned it into an excruciating, absurdly repetitive, extended Monty python skit (we recalled Terry Gilliam’s filler cartoons from that series)….

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