Beanstalk_Seesaw-Magazine_90hx970wmm.jpg
Reviews/Cabaret/Fringe World Festival

Sultry stars live on

7 February 2019

Fringe World review: Ali Bodycoat and Jessie Gordon, Peggy Lee & Judy Garland ⋅
Ellington Jazz Club, February 6 ⋅
Review by Leon Levy ⋅

There was something especially alluring about the prospect of a session at Ellington devoted to two great American singers whose impact was felt across a broad swathe of the mid-20th century. Although they were close contemporaries and each possessed a beguiling vocal personality, they made their mark in rather different ways. Peggy Lee’s sultry renditions in both the jazz and popular repertoire saw her through a long career into old age; Judy Garland, by starting early, had almost as long a career despite her troubled life being cut short.

The question on this occasion was whether two such larger-than-life careers could be encompassed in barely an hour. And the answer on the night was an emphatic yes.

Judy Garland’s triumphs on the concert stage were arguably even greater than those on screen and disc. Ali Bodycoat, covering the Garland songs, conquered the challenge of bringing a high-voltage personality into a small room. Many of her interpretations seemed to foreshadow what was still to come in Garland’s unhappy life: Get Happy brittle with brightness, Over the Rainbow bearing a sadness deeper than Dorothy’s in The Wizard of Oz, whose happy ending the singer herself never achieved. But it was not all gloom: Zing Went the Strings of My Heart and The Trolley Song brought moments of happy abandon, enhanced by wonderfully clear diction.

Peggy Lee’s seductive style and songbook were surely tailor-made for the intimate space that is the Ellington, and Jessie Gordon slipped effortlessly into the role. Is That All There Is exuded “nightclub” and the singer brought if off beautifully. The song, Fever, although not originally hers, became inextricably bound with Peggy Lee and was another considerable highlight. All the chosen songs were covered with authentic feeling and gave great pleasure.

The linking banter between the two artists brought context to some of the songs and avoided the risk of a channelling exercise. But, in truth, much of the chatter did not add to the occasion: the delivery of the songs – and the support of a stylish Adrian Galante at the piano – said it all.

Peggy Lee & Judy Garland continues until 10 February.

Ali Bodycoat also appears in From Bodycoat to Barbra. Jessie Gordon also presents The Western Swing HourBest Friends  and Fairly Average Dance Band.

Pictured top: Ali Bodycoat and Jessie Gordon. Photo supplied.

Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.

Author —
Leon Levy

Leon Levy‘s career was spent in commerce, but in retirement continues a lifetime’s interest in the arts generally and choral singing in particular. He enjoys occasional reviewing with its challenge of giving total focus to each performance. Leon remains attracted to playground slides under the cover of supervising his grandchildren.

Past Articles

  • Orchestra presents a mixed bill

    Beethoven has lost his swagger but Brahms shines even brighter. Leon Levy reviews the West Australian Symphony Orchestra’s final mainstage concert for 2020.

  • Musical burst of joy

    WASO’s new online chamber music series bristles with life and infinite tenderness, as though months of pent-up feelings were finally released. Leon Levy reviews the Ensemble Editions.

Read Next

  • A tsunami of subversion
    Reviews

    A tsunami of subversion

    26 January 2021

    You might want to brace yourself for Patrick Marlborough’s radical gloves-off stand-up in On Fringe, but it’s well worth the effort, advises Xan Ashbury.

    Reading time • 4 minutesFringe World Festival
  • Reading time • 4 minutesFringe World Festival
  • Millennials strive for Covid gold
    Reviews

    Millennials strive for Covid gold

    25 January 2021

    The 2020 Isolympics is an entertaining and tongue-in-cheek mish-mash of dance, story and parody, reports Daisy Sanders.

    Reading time • 4 minutesFringe World Festival

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio