Dunstan Playhouse, Fri 12 Jun
In 1998 Elvis Costello teamed with Burt Bacharach to produce a stark masterpiece Painted From Memory. Now comes the brilliant idea to perform these songs on stage as a song cycle, showcasing the many talents of Michael Falzon and Luke Kennedy.
The Adelaide Art Orchestra tastefully sets the scene with The Look Of Love, followed by our stars duetting on the Costello & Paul McCartney co-write Veronica. A cheesy cabaret smile during a song about senile dementia notwithstanding, this is a fine way to set the scene, to remind us who it is who has written these songs, and what an inspired pairing it was.
Falzon and Kennedy then take turns to sing the songs from Painted From Memory in album order. These are complex songs, full of dark nuances via Costello’s lyrics and Bacharach’s melodic inventiveness.
Both singers are known for their outstanding voices, but it is their ability to capture and convey these nuances that sets this show apart. Among memorable songs such as I Still Have That Other Girl and This House Is Empty Now it is impressive to hear Falzon nail the lesser known My Thief.
The Adelaide Art Orchestra with Musical Director Isaac Heyward performs the music of Burt Bacharach beautifully. Bacharach’s fondness for trumpet is gloriously on display. Laura Bunting is not given enough credit for her exquisite backing vocals. While the boys get to take it in turns, Laura works hard throughout the show. Her performance is all class, a definite feature of the show.
Halfway through (at the end of side 1 of the vinyl version) we stop for some light relief with an orchestral Close To You and Kennedy’s Alfie before all three singers get the show going again with a rollicking version of The Long Division. Then it’s back to separate performances, culminating in Falzon’s flawless delivery of the hit single God Give Me Strength.
Hearing these songs without the signature voice of Elvis Costello enables them to be reassessed on their own terms, and the songs come up trumps. With this fabulous show Falzon and Kennedy honour the work of two of the most important songwriters of recent times.
Painted From Memory continues at Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, from 6.30 pm until Sat 13 Jun.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.