Cabaret piano. Strong vocal work. Energetic showmanship. Humour. And… a hoedown? What does this all mean?!
What this collection is in fact is a cabaret show, part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival, called “Everybody Has Something To Hide (Except Me And My Monkey): The Lennon and McCartney Songbook”. The show is a trio comprising of Melissa Langton and Libby O’Donovan on vocals, and Mark Jones on vocals and piano. Fans of the Beatles may be happy to hear that the cabaret interpretation of the classic Lennon and McCartney songs not only maintain the musical integrity of the original songs (not only Beatles songs – but some of the songwriter’s solo works as well), but the show has some thoroughly enjoyable re-imaginings that leave the audience bedazzled by the skills of the performers (as well as amused in some cases!) True to the cabaret style, the trio focussed on the music, bringing their obvious skills to the fore in this area.
The show opened with the title track “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except For Me And My Monkey)”, which really set the pace for the evening. It was a nice, fast-paced number, which highlighted the strengths of the piano composition of Jones, as well as the vocal skills of all three singers. Admittedly, it was probably a little too loud to start with, which has more to do with the sound and lighting crew, as well as the venue (which shall be discussed later), but after a few pieces, the volume reached a more enjoyable level. The selection of tunes chosen was interesting, as they tended to focus on songs which were not seen as the greatest hits of the Beatles (for example, the title track, or Lennon’s song “Crippled Inside”), which, interestingly enough, didn’t detract from the evening in any manner, as they performed with enough gusto and energy, and passion, so that even if you were hearing some of the songs for the first time, you could be moved to tears (or laughter – depending on the mood of the individual number).
Another interesting approach taken by the trio was the amalgamation of various songs into a medley. The stunning rendition of “Eleanor Rigby”, “Another Day” and “Ticket To Ride” was truly awe-inspiring, with smooth transitions between songs, which reinforced (as if it needed it) the skill set of the performers. The diversity of the songs, such as the operatic rendition of “Live and Let Die”, to a samba form of “I Feel Fine”, and even an a capella rendition of “Good Night”, which was an apt encore number to see the audience off.
The performers were let down in one large way, which was the venue. As previously mentioned, they were quite loud to start off, which was a problem. This was caused, aside from the loudness of the performers and the microphones, by the hard, empty space of the Ormond Hall. This venue, which looks as though it could hold several hundred people, hosted roughly 80, all seated around tables in a true cabaret style. Had the venue been in a smaller hall, with carpet and a warmer atmosphere, the effect of the performance may have been enhanced even further.
The song choices and their interpretations were truly wonderful, but the show was truly enriched by the humorous anecdotes that appeared throughout the show, including some of the songs themselves. The trio were evidently not above having a laugh with the audience as they performed the show. One noticeable example of this in a non-song manner was the “5 weird versions of…”, where they played unusual interpretations of various Lennon-McCartney songs that they had come across in their musical travels. The number one “weird version” that they’d heard was in fact their own, which was met with a chorus of laughter from the audience. Musically, they also performed a hoedown version of “Obladi OblaDa”, which was ridiculous (as well as talented), and included yodelling and tuned beer bottles. The humour, both musically and verbal, was what truly distinguished the show.
In conclusion, the show was great fun, filled with humour, excellent music and a general good atmosphere. The pieces were well done, and interesting interpretations of the songs made for an enjoyable show. The trio are touring Australia, so if they happen to be in a local area when they are performing, tickets should be purchased. The show won’t be a letdown. After all, there was a hoedown version of “Obladi Oblada”.