James Halloran’s brand of bizarre debuts at The Butterfly Club. James Halloran’s Debutante Ball is a comic cabaret of his delusory ‘coming out’ in Melbourne’s high-society.
Brisbane based Halloran and his band; mix comedic introductions and explanations with original tracks of ballads, pop, jazz, and a cover of Hounds of Love by Kate Bush. Halloran in a modelesque pose pouts from behind his keyboard. In a wig of long blonde curls that rival Jessica Simpson and black lingerie like Frankfurter in Rocky Horror Picture Show, you know this ball is not going to be conservative.
An ethereal ballad sets the tone of the ‘first dance’ in Halloran’s imaginings. A ‘real blonde’, his hipster backing vocalist, a cellist, bass player, and drummer, accompany him. Halloran refers to his quirky cohorts like they’re extensions of himself. The backing vocalist is ‘pitch-perfect fag hag’, who has a remarkable range; ‘Marty Metronome’ on drums, a deviate Russian on cello, and Kendal on bass, who is quick to give James a gentle whip on his behind with his riding crop.
The comedic introductions that prelude each track are jigsaw pieces of Halloran’s former life in Brisbane, his troubles with lovers, and his expectations in high-society. One such lover, from a ‘former fornication with a fortune teller’, is an impromptu guest on stage. He gives Halloran a public tarot card reading that dashes his hopes of fame and fortune and the aristocracy of a Melbourne socialite.
He can’t hide his disgust and disputes the reading with his rendition of Hounds of Love. Halloran likens this to another controversial ‘coming-out’, the recent political Liberal conservatism of Kate Bush. He incorporates her actions in his satirical lyrics and he anticipates the same ‘hounding’ by critics at his Debutante Ball.
Halloran’s voice is enigmatic as are his reflective and heart breaking tracks from his recent debut album Him. Despite the efforts of Halloran and the accomplished cellist, some of the hauntingly beautiful notes and lyrics were lost in the ‘muddy bass’ reverberation. Both could have benefited from better mixing and or more acoustics.
The comedic skits between songs in James Halloran’s Debutante Ball are not unlike any other ‘coming-out’, funny, stilted, and awkward. Even so, the harmonics between Halloran and his ‘fag hag’ reach ‘Wuthering Heights’, and the pop and jazz tracks induce toe-tapping. His faithful ensemble from Brisbane is a cohesive mix of strings and percussion. With fond memories of your Debutante Ball, dress up, dress in drag, and giggle along with James Halloran.