BWW REVIEW: PAUL CAPSIS WITH JETHRO WOODWARD & THE FITZROY YOUTH ORCHESTRA Bring A Dark Rock To Sydney Festival
Thursday 17th January 2019, 6pm, Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent
Paul Capsis WITH JETHRO WOODWARD & THE FITZROY YOUTH ORCHESTRA deliver brilliant interpretation of a diverse range of music for an engaging rock music experience for Sydney Festival. Dark, twisty and deep in emotion with a dose of political commentary, the music driven cabaret is captivating.
Capsis is well known for his cabaret performances but this 80 minute experience has a vibe of a grungier music gig. Whilst the set list is planned the Capsis' interaction and patter isn't as he adds little snippets of musings, from the fact that he and Jethro have recently returned from England, having worked together in "a pantomime", more specifically South Australia's Windmill Theatre Co's RUMPLESTILTSKIN, to the odd and intriguing tales of his attire. He also throws in a few political observations, particularly related to the impact of Sydney's lockout laws on live music and the 2016 American election.
The music included in the set list comes from an eclectic mix of origins but all have an underlying rock element, even if taken to new places with Capsis and Woodward's arrangements. The arrangement s are surprising, particularly the inclusion of a tuba in a rock concert and Woodward manages an electronicly controlled undertone of loops to help fill out the sound of the works. Song selection like Skyhook's Ego Is Not A Dirty Word add a layer of social commentary, particularly with Capsis' interpretation. His skill as a cabaret performer also ensures that his expressions of often well-known songs are given new twists and personal connections as he draws on the meaning behind the lyrics to express the underlying emotions. Sonny Bono's Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) is deliciously dark and poignant whilst his rendition of his piece in Tom Waits' THE BLACK RIDER: THE CAST OF THE MAGIC BULLETS in which he starred last year, captures the twisted macabre world of the German folktale on which it is based. Other works feature his brilliant ability to both interpret and impersonate, particularly when he channels Amy Winehouse for a smoky rendition of Back To Black and captures the swamp rock of John Fogerty's Proud Mary.
Paul Capsis is known for his 'darkly camp aesthetic' (Charles Saunders Interviews Paul Capsis) and he brings this same style to this concert. Whilst he brings a more relaxed styling than his cabaret costumes to this work, Capsis still exudes the dark rock vibe with an ensemble of black, bold bling, dark retro sunglasses and black feathers festooning his trademark locks. Jethro Woodward and The Fitzroy Youth Orchestra have an intriguing hipster vibe which Paul is quoted as suggesting look like "librarians" but suits the eclectic programming.
The only challenge of the event is the programming in a venue in which it is difficult for the audience to express themselves due to space constraints. It is clear early on that Capsis and Woodward are trying to gage the energy of the audience and 'feed' off it but the traditional seating doesn't allow for much movement. This aside, Paul Capsis WITH JETHRO WOODWARD & THE FITZROY YOUTH ORCHESTRA is a wonderful night of new imaginings of well known music and worth trying to secure a ticket to.
Photos: Victor Frankowski