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Reviews/Cabaret/Fringe World Festival

Blues and bonhomie

1 February 2019

Fringe World review: Lucky Oceans and Jessie Gordon Present: The Piano Has Been Drinking ⋅
De Parel Spiegeltent, 31 January ⋅
Review by Robert Housley ⋅

The spiegeltent and a billowing smoke machine established the blues club vibe and bonhomie oozed from the stage as four accomplished musicians comfortable in their own skins met for a night of the blues. They included pedal steel guitarist and Grammy award-winning legend Lucky Oceans, vocalist/MC Jessie Gordon, vocalist/ guitarist Bill Lawrie, and keyboardist extraordinaire Paul Gioia.

The appropriation of a Tom Waits staple for both the show title and its opening number – replaced with irreverent lyrics from the band – set the scene for a night of dusky blues and a smidgen of gospel. Most of the song list came from the early part of the 20th Century such as Bessie Smith’s suggestive 1930s hit I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl, gospel track Shine on Me and the ageless classic St. James Infirmary.

Lawrie’s gravelly vocals epitomised blues authenticity; his bare feet augmenting his connection to the earth. Gordon’s delicate vocal delivery had plenty of grunt and range when required and her literal show stopper is worth the price of the ticket alone. Oceans and Gioia had their moments of exceptional musicianship each with solos bursting from behind the two vocal leads.

If sitting around with a group of friends sharing good music and banter is the kind of experience you enjoy then this Fringe show will suit you to a tee.

The Piano Has Been Drinking continues until February 3.

Pictured Top: Lucky Oceans on pedal steel guitar

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Author —
Robert Housley

Robert Housley returns to arts journalism following a 20-year hiatus managing performing arts venues. He was the last arts editor of Perth’s Daily News and has worked as a journalist in London, Cape Town and Amsterdam. Robert’s favourite item of playground equipment is the swing and its enduring challenge: how high can you go?

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