Maybe it was prescient I saw some doco on tv this week bemoaning the passing of Variety Shows, musing that Reality TV & “Australia’s Got Some Kind of X Factor” offerings now occupy the space where professional multitalented performers used to ply their trade.
The sadness behind this is that every song can hold a narrative that starts long before a single note has been struck, a mood and a back-story that prepares us for the experience. And they can all stitch together as part of a bigger artistic testimony that we didn’t see coming. Our attention spans are now too short. And we expect so little in the name of entertainment. Time to raise your expectations, and prepare to have them met.
If this were ornithology, Michael Wheatley would be a very rare Inner Western Sydney Basin Crooner, with a melodious song best heard to great effect in the mating season. He has hidden plumage under that initially understated demeanour – it just takes the right bird song for all to be revealed as nature intended.
But let me talk more about the band. Itty Kitty Bang Bang, a ballet dancing Glamazon commanding a drum kit with the ferocity of the Muppets “Animal”, but with the carefully engineered precision of a Swiss Watch. Stefano Cosetino, Bass man, holds the foundations like reinforced poured concrete – but never inflexible, jazz grooves and pops flowed from his finger tips. Daniel Holmes is like a zen guitarist – his crafted licks and harmonies are an act of meditation seeking to illuminate, not overpower, Michael’s vocals.
Miss Burlesque ACT 2016, Jazida, was music made visible – her arms were pure melody, her hips an extension of Kitty’s kit, her smile an extension of the wry mischief in the lyrics.
But last, I want to talk about Kelly Ann Doll. She is one of Australia’s best burlesque performers, hands down, so I’m not going to tread over old ground. But until this tour, she had never sung in front of a band before. She was a Dionysian Maenad on stage, her voice and body synchronised in frenzy & ecstasy – instinct & emotion ritualised, beautiful & terrifying. This is where burlesque is going. Pay attention.
This troupe of troubadours has one more performance – tonight, 19 February, at La Boheme.
Michael Wheatley & The Dirty Carpet Disco Band – expect severe rug burns.