Since its inception in 2010, the Melbourne Cabaret Festival has grown from strength to strength. Today, it is the second – largest artistic event of its kind in the world.
Some of the Australian and international stars that have graced the festival with their presence are Joey Arias, Trevor Ashley, Alana Conway, Dolly Diamond, Ginger & Tonic, Chelsey Gibb, Adam Guettel, Amanda Harrison, Melissa Langton, Elise McCann, Matthew Mitcham, and Naomi Price.
This year’s schedule ran for two non – stop weeks. With options to suit a wide range of musical tastes, the calendar included:
- He’s Every Woman;
- Peter Allen – Live in Inverted Commas;
- Practically Perfect – The Music of Julie Andrews;
- Someone’s Daughter with Alyce Platt: and,
- We’ve Only Just Begun – The Music Of The Carpenters.
Of the handful of shows I caught at the festival in 2018, perhaps the most esoteric offering was Fire Walk With Us: The Music Of Twin Peaks.
Premiering in 1990, Twin Peaks was an American series which took the viewing world by storm. Co – created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, until then there had been nothing like it on mainstream commercial television. The prime – time drama was a surreal mixture of horror and mystery, with off – beat humour thrown in for good measure. A collaboration between Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, Twin Peaks’ brilliant score became the veritable icing on its cake.
Electric Moon is a Brisbane – based jazz collective.
With an acclaimed tribute to Ziggy Stardust, it should be noted that they previously appeared at the Melbourne Cabaret Festival two years ago. Presented with haunting minimalism, it quickly became clear that the band shared a deep and connected appreciation for Twin Peaks’ music. Meaning, the team worked together as a cohesive and singular unit.
For their two night – engagement at the cabaret festival, the seven – strong group was made up of:
- Mia Goodwin (on vocals);
- Lucinda Shaw (on vocals & keys);
- SS.Sebastian (on vocals, keys, & guitar);
- Tylea (on vocals & keys);
- James Lees (on drums & percussion);
- Sam Maguire (on double bass); and,
- Rohan Seekers (on piano & keys).
The eighty – minute set was a balanced mixture of instrumental and vocal pieces from both the television series and the stand – alone cinematic prequel. In no particular order, their selections included:
- Dance Of The Dream Man;
- Into The Night;
- Just You;
- Laura Palmer’s Theme;
- Love Theme;
- The Nightingale;
- Questions In A World Of Blue;
- Rocking Back Inside My Heart; and,
- Sycamore Trees.
Fire Walk With Us established and maintained an intriguing mystique from start to finish.
For several key reasons, it also stood in stark contrast to the other festival shows I saw this year. Where those presentations mostly prefaced each song with an anecdote or personal association, Fire Walk With Us made their act only about the soundtrack. By doing this, the artists seemed to perform for some other reason, giving themselves up to the music.
Crisp sound and intense mood lighting design reinforced this altered state of mind. That theatricality was further enhanced, thanks to a light – encrusted backdrop and a scaffold proscenium constructed of LED strips.
Chapel Off Chapel’s main space is usually set up with rows of raked seating. For the festival’s duration however, it was reconfigured with a nightclub – style layout. In doing so, a more intimate tone and mood were immediately established. That allowed viewers to enjoy shows like Fire Walk With Us in close proximity to the artists, too.
Bringing together performers to a festival of this calibre is a rare viewing privilege indeed. I look forward to Electric Moon’s next creative outing with keen interest.