Reviewed Friday 13th June 2014

Former Cabaret Festival Artistic Director, David Campbell, brought Broadway Composer, John Bucchino, to Adelaide in 2009 and now, with David Campbell sings John Bucchino, they are reunited. Bucchino's previous performance, An Evening with John Bucchino and Friends, was a big hit with Adelaide audiences. The two long standing friends were faced with a packed house on this occasion, showing just how much Adelaide was looking forward to this performance.

Bucchino, who has an impressive string of awards to his name, writes poetic lyrics that touch on events and feelings that resonate with everybody, and has a great sense of humour, too. He is also a phenomenal pianist, able to present a sparse, yet meaningful accompaniment to a ballad, and then extremely complex chords in a swinging number right after, sometimes leaving one wondering how on earth he could construct some of those chords with only two hands.

Campbell has to be the very finest exponent of Bucchino's songs, through their closeness of ideas and interpretations born of their years of friendship and close collaborations. Campbell matches perfectly every thought and word in the lyrics, and locks in solidly with the accompaniment. His four platinum albums, an ARIA award and three Helpmann Awards attest to his great talent and popularity.

This performance was one of the major highlights of my time at this year's Festival so far, and others have expressed the same opinion. With so many marvellous productions happening during the three weeks of this Cabaret Festival, that is certainly saying something. To add to their success, the album that this tour is promoting, and which has the same title, has just reached number one on the iTunes jazz charts.

Between the songs the two chat, exchange humorous banter, talk about their lives and friendship, all giving the impression that we are visiting a couple of old friends, rather than attending a performance. Bucchino's songs have very personal lyrics. He explains that when a relationship ends he is prompted to write songs inspired by those endings. Campbell fully engages with those meaningful lyrics, his interpretations filled with understanding. This is a true meeting of minds.

The opening number for this performance, the poignant and emotion filled, Sweet Dreams, is also the first track on the album and was followed by the second track, Something Spontaneous. A lot of time and thought goes into the sequence of tracks on a CD and, likewise, in a concert, so using the same running list made obvious good sense. The next song, though, was That Smile, an earlier work that is not on this album, but definitely a worthy inclusion to this evening.

Not all of the songs were tinged with sadness, like Learn How to Say Goodbye, and not all were sung by Campbell. Bucchino has a wicked sense of humour, which was to the fore in his rendition of On My Bedside Table, and later in, I'm Better Off Without You. Before we were aware of it we had reached the end of the performance, closing with the final two tracks from the CD, Taking the Wheel, and Grateful. The time had flown too quickly. You can buy a copy of the CD at the Adelaide Festival Centre, or download it from the iTunes store here.

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From This Author Barry Lenny

Barry Lenny Born in London, Barry was introduced to theatre as a small boy, through being taken to see traditional Christmas pantomimes, as well as discovering jazz (read more...)

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