Women In Voice 2015
Judith Wright Centre & WiV
Judith Wright Centre
October 15 – 24 2015
Reviewed by Xanthe Coward
Women In Voice (WiV), the fabulously fun and entertaining, long-running Brisbane institution returns to the Judy in its 23rd configuration.
Its successful formula this time features Emma Dean, Carol Lloyd, Yani, Alison St Ledger and Queenie van de Zandt in the guise of her alter ego, International Music Therapist, Jan van de Stool.
Van de Stool appeared with WiV in 2006 and it’s her hysterical patter as MC that elevates this show to the next level. Unlike the diehard WiV fans that don’t miss a show I’ve attended intermittently over the years, impressed with some performances and with others, not so much. It’s the first time I’ve seen Van de Zandt’s character away from YouTube and, along with a stellar sounding band and Emma Dean’s superb performance, Van de Zandt as Van de Stool is the highlight of the night. Only Carita Farrar Spencer (and probs Bob Downe) comes close to entertaining a crowd in a similar fashion, and it’s with Farrar Spencer that Van de Zandt hopes to take WiV to Melbourne.
But wait. Why not pair Women in Voice with Women of Letters? I KNOW. CAN YOU IMAGINE?!
Emma Dean opens the show with a suitably eclectic, precisely stitched together set, featuring superb arrangements by Stephen Russell (MD, piano & mandolin) of Tori Amos, Kate Bush, Fiona Apple and Bjork. She also sings (and drums with style) a fun, sassy song about a hot knife and pound of butter, which we first heard in Noosa when we hosted Dean and Francesca de Valence in an intimate “home” concert. What is that song called?
Recently returned from a stint in NYC, Dean’s unique voice and vibe are stronger than ever; she’s delicious enough to send a shiver down my spine on more than one occasion, and she’s a clear favourite with the audience on opening night.
Carol Lloyd, Aussie rock legend, suited up and still in strong voice, appears to come with her league of loyal fans and with them she is a hit. For me, it’s the gentle acapella arrangement of Calling All Angels, shared by the women, which strikes the right chord and lifts this rock ballad to new heavenly heights.
“World Music Mama” Yani and Alison St Ledger bring new stories to the stage their way. I’ve never enjoyed a St Ledger set so much – so much story – and Yani’s voice is pure and Woodford Folk Festival hungry (or perhaps I am! I think we’re all yearning for it…not long now!). It’s in these moments especially, looking around at an appreciative audience, that we can clearly see the success of the formula.
In each WiV production we enjoy such diverse talent and personal stories from some of the best artists around. It’s always a mixed bag so you can’t really ever lose, and if you take a few friends and book a cabaret table (the best way to enjoy an evening of cabaret, let’s face it!), you’ll have loads of fun during and lots more to discuss after the show.
Go, book a table, take in a drink and enjoy.