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Review: Paul McDermott and Steven Gates at the Garden of Unearthly Delights

By Lia Cocks

Tonight’s Fortuna Spiegeltent, the most elaborate and superbly air conditioned tent at The Garden of Unearthly Delights is the home of Paul McDermott and Steven Gates’ Go Solo (Together, as they say) for the next ten days.

McDermott and Gates became friends in 1999 after meeting at the ARIAs, but this marks the beginning of their musical duo, after singing together privately for 5 years.

Two of Australia’s most adored and revered comedic singer-songwriters, McDermott, from cult musical comedy group Doug Anthony All Stars and Good News Week (my fave) and Gates, one third of Tripod, bring Adelaide a show of old friend barneys, reminiscing, witty banter and spontaneous drivel scattered amongst their genius lyricism and songbook catalogue.

We begin with Shopping Mall, Paul’s tongue in cheek ode to finally understanding common life after his high roller times with DAAS, followed by a rock, Chilli-Pepper-feel rendition of White Man Prison (loved it!).

A beautiful Be My Queen, by Gatesy, with comical vocals by McDermott lead into an impromptu heckle of a 13 year old audience member, which had the crowd in stitches, and led to a light hearted ongoing joke.

Out attention is then turned to Paul’s ailing health, his near death experience and comeback. While the subject is serious and the undertone is modest, the delivery is still light-hearted and wry. True McDermott style.

This leads to the most uproarious, sing-a-long song of the night, The ballad of Steve Jobs.

The night was full of brilliant songwriting, ingenious showmanship, lowbrow comedy and the finest and strongest display of friendship.

Even though that friendship may be one-sided (cue the epode to Tim Finn by Gatesy)...

My standout performance of the night was a tribute to the 70s, Teak Veneer, with ukulele in arms and a Hawaiian feel, we are taken away with the words of the song; the phrasing, timing and melody that I could actually visually see the song as they sung. Tremendous.

It is this melancholy followed by humour that takes you by surprise and puts a little smile on your face.

And then sometimes you just get a beautiful song.

Like Stone Crows, a song written about their mutual friend who passed away too young. This is such the power of their music; transporting one back in time, conjuring up past memories and feelings, a sense of nostalgia, love and loss.

Captivating lyrics and mesmerising voices, you are in for a night of incredible harmonies, humour, balladry and charm that will have you enthralled and wanting for more. Bravo Go Solo!

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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