BWW Reviews: A Little Slice Of New York - And A Whole Lot Of Heart: David Campbell Sings John Bucchino
Sunday 25 May - Arts Centre, Melbourne
I'm in a New York state of mind.
It might be the first song, which gives off a hint of Billy Joel. Or the intimate stage setting - just a piano and its player, a singer, and a tangle of cords on the floor. It might even be the venue itself - these Arts Centre theatres live deep underground, and you leave something of Melbourne behind when you descend. Disappearing from the daylight, so that at 1pm on a Sunday afternoon, it could be any time, anywhere at all.
When David Campbell starts to sing, it hits me - Ahhh! New York! This is what it must have felt like way back then, watching an Aussie kid become a cabaret star on the New York scene. These days Campbell is a household name in Australia, but in the '90's he was making a name for himself in that city, headlining at beloved cabaret venues like Eighty Eight's, and Rainbow & Stars.
It was during these New York years that Campbell met composer John Bucchino; the pair immediately hit it off as friends and collaborators, selling out shows, earning glowing reviews from New York Times, and even taking on Hollywood together, when Campbell voiced Bucchino's songs for the DreamWorks film, Joseph: King of Dreams.
This afternoon we're celebrating these stories and achievements, and the enduring, endearing relationship between the two artists. It's the opening performance of David Campbell Sings John Bucchino, a show the pair will take to Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney in June. It might have been a while since Campbell and Bucchino last performed together, but you wouldn't know it today, thanks to the easy, genuine rapport they share. The entire show feels like one is dropping in on a conversation between old friends; it makes you want to sidle up to the stage to better hear their stories - in the quiet hope they'll forget you're there, and just keep talking. And playing. And singing.
(They would, I think, if they could).
The best cabaret hurts your heart a little, it tells you something about life, and love. This, then, is cabaret at its finest. Bucchino's songs are beautifully detailed accounts of his life - of love affairs, and mistakes, and risks taken - essentially, all the things worth singing about. Campbell interprets these stories with the perfect balance of humour and pathos, and to this ear, his voice has never sounded better.
If I Ever Say I'm Over You - a simple, stunning ode to disappearing love, stands out as a highlight of the afternoon, both as a composition, and thanks to Campbell's plaintive delivery of the song. I spent much of the show laughing at Bucchino's clever lyrics, his one-two-three song relationship quips, and Campbell's usual, genial presence ("We all had crushes on him" - yeah, yeah Bucchino, so do the rest of us!). But this was the quiet moment. The big, fat tears moment. Still, and beautiful.
Art telling me something about life. And love.
I never made it to New York until long after Campbell had moved back to Oz. This almost makes up for what I knew I was missing out on back then. Campbell and Bucchino brought a little slice of New York to Melbourne this afternoon. And even better, they brought us a whole lot of heart.
David Campbell Sings John Bucchino - Tour Dates
To pre-order a copy of the CD: David Campbell Sings John Bucchino, click here.