- 21 Oct 01
Baby it’s a Weill world. We’re just minding it ’til he gets back.
Not many rock‘n’rollers understand the idea of fighting for a stage, let alone defending it. Cabaret artists do, from Berlin to Ballymun. Gavin Friday has cabaret, or at least theatre, in his marrow. With Ich Liebe Dich, tonight’s celebration of the Kurt Weill songbook, there are no attempts to spruce up or water down the Weimar machine for popular consumption. Nor should there be. Given a repertoire that stretches from here to Broadway, it’s easy to get lost in the stars.
At times Ich Liebe Dich looked like stadium show scaled down for a smoky Christchurch basement, where high and low lifers rubbed off on each other and secretly got aroused. Of course Friday always makes over neutral venues into his own devil’s playground (this time the set design is all table service and pre-war chic) but he also wrongfoots you from the off, whether making his entrance from behind (matron) or interviewing his audience about their sex lives.
But before we go any further, a word about the band. The maestro Maurice Seezer is a light-fingered thief who is also capable of tackling the teutonically tight rhythms in the material by taking to heart Bukowski’s title, the one about playing the piano like a percussion instrument ’til your fingers bleed a bit. Then there’s Julia Palmer, a cellist who can shriek ’til you shit your britches while doing the diva in a depraved ‘Alabama Song’. To her right, Renaud Pion understands space but puts the sax in violence when called upon, while Michael Blair, veteran of Tom Waits’ wildest years, reconciles avant-garde Rumblefish-ery with the strictest march time.