Showroom One at the GC at The German Club, Wed 1 Mar.
Stewart D’Arrietta is not a Leonard Cohen impersonator. That much is clear from the opening song Everybody Knows when we learn that he does not look or sound anything like Cohen. Rather he is a gifted performer who, as the name of the show implies, is intent on sharing a highly personalised tribute to an artist he greatly respects.
For most of the show he is, unlike Cohen, seated behind a keyboard, which he plays with great skill. His impressive backing band – John Bettison on guitar, Victor Rounds on bass, Dr Michael Kluger on accordion and Mark Meyer on drums – seems most comfortable when rocking out on songs like The Future.
The expected songs – Suzanne, Bird On A Wire, Famous Blue Raincoat, and the inevitable Hallelujah are all here. But he is also intent on playing the songs ‘a little differently’, with mixed results. An Irish lilt makes Sisters Of Mercy a standout. A tango treatment of First We Take Manhattan is interesting. A recitation of the poem A Thousand Kisses Deep is followed by a superb version of the song of the same name. But whether it is deliberate or not, throughout So Long Marianne I am unable to shake an image of Jimmy Durante. Stewart leaves the keyboard for a very cabaret stroll through the audience for I’m Your Man. Tower Of Song and Closing Time are tossed away lightly.
D’Arrietta’s show is capable of winning new fans for Cohen’s work, which can only be a good thing. Rusted on fans will find his between song stories, such as Cohen’s assignation with Janis Joplin in Chelsea Hotel, just a little obvious. And D’Arrietta’s rollicking style sometimes rides roughshod over some of Cohen’s more subtle or layered moments. (Guitar solo in Famous Blue Raincoat anyone?)
I miss the ‘golden voice’, but as we can no longer witness the master in concert, a night of Stewart D’Arrietta performing a swag of Cohen’s best songs seems to me to be a fine way to spend an evening!
My Leonard Cohen continues at Showroom One at The GC at The German Club from 7.30pm until Sun 12 Mar.
Book at FringeTIX on 1300 621 255 or adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.