Monday 8 July 2013

A lady should never drink alone......but if she has to!

(I know, I have used my one exclamation mark in the title. I might sneak another in later if I feel it's necessary.)

So, Thursday night (4th of July if you want specifics) I arrived at, what seemed to be, a proper old man's pub. If it weren't for the posters up telling people how it was a fringe venue I would have been sure I was in the wrong place. But no, Upstairs at the Southern Cross on the New Kings Road, Parsons Green is indeed a new fringe venue. I must now admit that this was possibly the first time in my life that I had walked into a pub, bought a drink and sat down on my own! (That deserved an exclamation mark - for those wondering why I keep mentioning exclamation marks please read my last post "A busker's life...") I sat on my own for approximately 10 minutes drinking my cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc at which point I was joined by a friend. Those 10 minutes were quite empowering and you will be pleased to know that I would be tempted to visit a public house alone again if I absolutely had to. It wasn't nearly as fearsome as I had thought. If you read my very first post you will know I am knocking on the door of forty so this was quite an event for me. I do still believe a lady should not drink alone if she can help it but there is absolutely nothing wrong with it if she does.

Anyway, I digress. Why was I at the Southern Cross I hear you yelling? I was there for a cabaret evening cleverly called "6@8". Clever because there were 6 of them and the cabaret started at 8pm. Genius. And yes, I have finally got off my sofa and gone out into the big, bad world to experience live music (there really was nothing on my telly box as The Apprentice was on the night before).

"6@8" consisted of 6 singers (1 was also the MD/accompanist and another accompanied the MD when he had a stab at the singing thing). The MD and sometime singer was Andre Refig, a exceedingly multi talented individual. He kept everything together musically and even got up to sing a couple of numbers. He treated us to a beautiful rendition of "Someone to fall back on" by Jason Robert Brown. His real skill lies in story telling. Don't get me wrong he has a lovely voice but his ability to really act the song was what impressed me most. The same thing happened with his offering of "Taylor the Latte Boy - rebuttal". Andre is naturally funny and did not overdo the comedy which made it all the funnier. He was accompanied by Emma Finlay who sang the original "Taylor the Latte Boy" earlier in the programme.

As with the busker I spoke of in my previous post I will not go through everything that was performed or we will be here longer than that tennis match between Djokovic and del Potro at Wimbledon (nearly 5 hours!). A general observation from the show as a whole was that the girls seemed to struggle with the acoustic of the room more than the boys. Chloe Nicolson's bright voice cut through most of the time but the other girls could have done with a little help, perhaps from a microphone (although as an opera singer you must understand how it pains me to say that). This is not to say their performances were not good. They were. The problem lies partly with the venue. The set up is a little strange. It is a fabulous room but at the moment there is a humongous bar in the middle. If this was taken out it would open up the space and also mean a bigger variety of shows could be put on here. I also think (but can not remember for certain) that there is carpet on the floor so if that was taken up this would also help the acoustic no end. Anyway back to the "6".

So let's discuss Chloe. I really enjoyed her performances, whereas my friend was less enamoured than me. Going to show once again that we don't have to all like the same things (if you are reading Chloe he didn't not like you, do not fret). Here is a girl who used every opportunity she had to show what she is capable of. She accompanied herself on the guitar for one number and on the ukulele for another (her ukulele was BEAUTIFUL! Red and gorgeous. I really wanted to nick it, but I don't do things like that). Her stand out song was "One Night Stand" (I think it was called this. I don't know where it came from. Research is not my strong point. I will work on it!). She started with plenty of bravado putting across the fact she was a woman who did not want a relationship and for the most part I really disliked the character singing until the end when you realise why she doesn't want relationships. The change from strong to vulnerable was so smooth and subtle. Really excellent work. I wanted to cry for her at the end. A name to keep an eye out for I'd say.

There was good work also from Olga-Marie Pratt and Helen Wright. Olga-Marie's stand out moment was a song called "Blue Horizon". She has a great voice when she lets it go. Her big belt notes were superb but in this space her quieter singing got a bit lost. I would LOVE to hear more from her but with a little microphonical (that word will be in the OED next year) help. Helen Wright struck me as a singer that might like to embrace her inner classical singer. She did a great job but I couldn't help thinking whenever she sang that there is a fabulous operatic mezzo dying to get out. Just a thought, who am I to say she should change anything?

Emma Finlay is a seasoned performer from the look of her biog and her experience absolutely shone through. Again a little amplification would have helped as her voice got a little lost at times in the space. But her diction was so great that I didn't actually lose any words. I just wanted to be hit between the eyes a bit more. She had many stand out songs. The one I particularly liked was one about eating alone (it may have actually been called "Eating Alone" but I can't be sure). Her progression from sober to drunk was sublime and very, very funny. A real highlight in proceedings (a song I would love to do myself at some point if I ever find what it was actually called. Emma may have written it herself as she had written one of her earlier songs about a stalker which was also excellent).

We then come to David Phipps-Davis. Operatic tenor and sometime pantomime Dame. A thoroughly excellent singer who is not afraid to shock. There is a one-man show involving shocking songs waiting to be devised by David. He gave us a couple of great songs earlier in the show but his stand out song was "If I could smell her c**t" from "Silence! The Musical". For anyone who doesn't know, and can't guess, this is a musical based on "The Silence of the Lambs" and this song happens just after Hannibal Lector meets Clarice Starling. He asks Clarice "What did Miggs say to you?" (I am afraid all I could recall when I heard this said on Thursday was the French and Saunders sketch based on the same film. Instead of passing murderers on her way to see Dawn French as Lector, Jennifer Saunders as Starling passes has-been comics locked up in cells and French says to Saunders "What did The Krankies say to you?" Saunders replies "Fandabidozi". Still makes me howl to this day). The answer to the question in the film and the musical is the title of the song, obviously. The song is actually quite beautiful and was delivered beautifully. Apologies were made in advance if it was likely to offend but as there was only one song after it we were advised to hold tight and grin and bear it if we didn't enjoy the subject matter.

All in all it was an excellent evenings entertainment and a wonderful introduction to a new fringe venue. I recommend you get yourselves to Parsons Green to see summat soon. I myself intend to go to Aoife Nally's show on Sunday 4th August.


  1. I gotta say, you write brilliantly. Interesting and amusing,entirely pleasant stuff, and not bitchy like alot of these types of blogs can be. 'Pleasant' might seem like an insult, but it is not. Your blog is pleasant in the same way that sitting with a good book and a cold beverage next to an open window on a bright summer day, (perhaps overlooking the park) is pleasant.So keep 'em coming, and don't change your style one iota. 50's wife, good work.

  2. I thanks you Anonymous! (Although I have worked out who you are so to me you are not really Anonymous).