[CABARET/Comedy ~ NSW]
The Chamber at THE QUEENS, Sat 13 Mar.
In the 1970s there was a brother and sister outfit called The Carpenters. Karen and Richard Carpenter had a brand of non-threatening, honey harmony-ed, soft pop proved wildly popular and turned them into middle of the road superstars with several bags full of hits and touring around the world. They were the squeakiest clean, goody two shoes, safe pop act around, loved by kids, parents…grandparents. Karen’s incredible voice pared with Richard’s masterful skill as a harmoniser and record producer made gorgeous sounding music.
Behind the scenes things were kind of dark. Richard got addicted to Quaaludes and Karen was suffering from Anorexia Nervosa way before anybody knew what that was. Complications from her condition lead to a fatal heart attack in 1983. In the 1994 a tribute album called If I Were A Carpenter featuring a mess of super cool bands like Sonic Youth, Shonen Knife, The Cranberries and Sheryl Crow, reignited interest in the band’s music and refocused discussion of the duo’s work and legacy. Essentially The Carpenters were cool again; if indeed they were ever ‘cool’ in the first place.
Sharon & Darren Carpenter (Debora Krizak and Darren Mapes) are from Kempsey (Mid North Coast, New South Wales) and like the other Carpenters they dress in 100% non-natural fibre clothing, and may go to the same hair stylist as Ken and Barbie. They squabble like siblings and they celebrate the kitsch aspects of the Carpenters image with brilliant comic accuracy.
And then they sing! I am instantly reminded of seeing Bjorn Again for the first time decades ago. Yes there were wigs and satin flairs, and gags about divorcing each other but the music of the super Swedes was recreated so meticulously, with such attention to detail and respect and admiration for the perfect pop creations that people could go for a laugh AND be carried away by the reconstruction of music they love from a band they will never see.
The Carpenters From Kempsey are all of these things. Sharon and Darren throw barbs at each other, introduce sax solos from the unseen Uncle Bruce (allegedly off stage) and Sharon’s ‘drumming’ made me laugh very hard indeed. But musically, boy howdy – they are a cracker. They nail those harmonies and the whole sound of the originals with skill and precision. While most of the set is Carpenters gold like There’s A Kind Of Hush, Rainy Days And Mondays, Superstar, Sing and We’ve Only Just Begun, there are some curve balls and surprises were they apply some advanced Carpentry to songs by John Denver, Jimmy Barnes and Kenny Rogers. Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft, a song originally by mysterious ‘could-it-be-the-Beatles’ outfit Klaatu (it wasn’t) was covered by The Carpenters only a year after the original was release but the new version was a massive global hit. Tonight it proves one of many highlights with awkward choreography and earnest delivery.
A show that was both musically exceptional and hysterically funny, well deserving of the standing ovation at the end.
Carpenters From Kempsey continues at The Chamber at THE QUEENS from 3pm on Sun 21 Mar.
Book at FringeTix on 1300 621 255 and adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.