Danielle Mathews – Sings the Songs of Shirley Bassey review by Lyn Zelen

*****stars

Danielle Mathews stunning performance wraps up the High Tea Live series at Arts Centre Melbourne.

Danielle is not an impersonator; she is an operatic, award-winning artist, paying homage to Shirley Bassey’s incredible career.

The Pavilion buzzed with electric anticipation. Danielle Mathews commanded immediate attention away from the scrumptious three tiered savoury and sweet delights, and in enormous voice sang “Big Spender”. Closing your eyes, you could be convinced the Dame herself was on stage.

Ms Mathews, a dazzling hour-glass figure in a red glittering gown, the thigh split accentuating her hip swinging and her impressive vocal range reverberated off the dome ceiling of the Pavilion.

Danielle Mathews introduces herself and her exceptional ensemble led by the collaborative efforts of Adam Przewlocki on grand piano, bass and drums. Mathews draws on Dame Shirley Bassey’s beginnings and coincidental parallels in her own upbringing.

Mathews captivating presence warms up the otherwise cool first day of summer, welcoming all to the splendid Pavilion ‘On a Wonderful Day Like Today’.

The thirty-something songstress included some of her personal favourites in the matinee performance with humorous anecdotes from her childhood—confusing the lyrics of “Kiss Me Honey Honey” with an advertisement jingle—and in true Bassey style, Danielle flirts and sizzles amongst the audience singing the well-known hit.

Danielle Mathews speaks of Bassey’s struggles in the early years of her stardom and bravado. In superb bel canto and iconic ‘Bassey’ arm gestures, she exemplifies the Dame’s enduring career with “The Lady is a Tramp”.

Mathews delivered a repertoire of piping hot Bassey hits complimenting the never-ending service of tea and coffee. The Australian/Irish/Vanuatuan singer has our fingers clicking between sampling the delightful assortment of savory warm pastries, fresh sandwiches or delicious petit fours as she sang a thirty second rendition of “Smarvelous”. The Arts Centre High Tea caters to all dietary requirements—the vegetarian selection was more than ample.

The audience of family and friends dined and celebrated life and loss. There weren’t too many dry eyes after Danielle’s interpretation of “Where Do I Begin” and “Never, Never, Never”.

Danielle Mathews is a personable performer, singing every lyric with emotive engaging perfection. Her magnificent voice created goose bumped arms during “Diamonds are Forever”.

After a brief interval the sun peaked through the Melbourne clouds filling the Pavilion with light. The banter between Mathews and pianist Adam Przewlocki and obvious song choices alluded to moments that shaped the Dame and Danielle’s lives.

Mathews conveyed joint feelings of abandonment and career sacrifices with an emotionally charged execution of “If You Go Away”, an irrefutable “This is My Life” and conclusive “I Am What I Am.’

A well-rounded performance was had by all from the immaculate ensemble timing to Danielle’s witty narrative and her effortless coloratura she’s known for.

Those waiting for more big ballads and costume changes weren’t disappointed. Smiles spread wide as Danielle reappeared for an encore in a feathered, sparkly cape and her vocal gymnastics abounded the Pavilion once more with “History Repeated” and “Gold Finger”.

Mathews is no mimic, she is an improviser and impeccable Australian talent.

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