There are some people who just know how to throw a party. Chris Osborne and Susan Bennett certainly know how to mix the perfect ingredients: take one Australian Modern home, invite some of Brisbane’s most-talented musicians, add a little gin, a tiny twist of sin, and you have the perfect Anywhere Festival experience. Saturday 21st May was the final evening of Brisbane’s 2016 Anywhere Festival. I couldn't think of a better way to end the festival than by spending it at the Carina home of Chris Osborne and Susan Bennett, revelling in the fabulous performances by Miss Laine (Laine Loxlea-Danann), Alicia Cush, and Dave Spicer (with special guest Zoe Georgakis-Ray). For a little over 90 minutes the audience were enthralled, amused, moved and greatly entertained by a well-chosen mix of jazz, “mashups” performed by talented musicians who are clearly at the top of their game.
A menu of jazz, with occasional operatic influences, liberal dashes of humour, and tons of style, the Gin & Sin Jazz Salon more-than-delivered on the promised “postmodern Jukebox-inspired mashups.” The 18-or-so song set included original material, as well as reinvented and redefined pieces made famous by Kylie Minogue, K.D. Lang, AC/DC, The Cure... and by Gabriel Fauré. I’d certainly be at the top of any queue to buy a recording of the music, and particularly hope that Alicia Cush and Dave Spicer record their version of The Cure’s In Between Days. Picking out my favourites is a challenge; I’d end up running through the whole set. But I’ll touch on a few special memories of the evening here.
Miss Laine’s set was wonderful—a fantastic selection of contrasting pieces which showed of her jazz abilities. Let’s be Bad was simply fabulous; the audience were completely enthralled. In her set, Alicia Cush demonstrated that a love of opera is no barrier to some wonderful jazz performances. I absolutely loved Confide In Me—so very much much better as a ‘tango.’ Dave Spicer was variously described as the ‘Mr Music...who wrangles the girls” (Chris Osborne), the man “with the little ‘spicy’ fingers,” and as a great teacher (Miss Laine). In his hands the Kawai keyboard produced some evocative and quite beautiful jazz. A high-point of Dave Spicer’s performance for me was Busy Being Blue. Invited to “tell me a sad song there Dave,” he responded with a truly memorable musical interaction with Miss Laine—matching the evocative performance by a wonderful chanteuse with his skilful playing.
And of course everyone in the audience will come away remembering the fantastic comedic skills of Miss Laine and of Alicia Cush. Just mention maracas, ukulele’s or ‘lazy’ to anyone who was there and you’ll see a smile. Miss Laine’s highly-energetic performance of Boom-Chicka-Boom just had to be seen to be believed (a number of people in the audience were in hysterics). Alicia Cush’s languorous performance of Laziest Girl In Town was lyrical, beautifully judged, and very funny. And when the two artists combined to sing a ‘family piece’ about a fisherman and a fishing trip that went wrong… well... let’s just say there was a pot and a fish, two ukuleles, and a lot of laughter.
Finally, Miss Laine, Alicia Cush and Dave Spicer welcomed Zoe Georgakis-Ray to the stage for four final songs: the lyrical harmonies of the Cole Porter You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To, the entertaining Liquid Lunch, giving the Andrew’s Sisters a run for their money with Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen and the encore One Note Samba. A superb final selection which was perfectly arranged and performed.
Look out for future performances by Miss Laine (Miss Laine & the Odd Sox), Alicia Cush (Babushka), Dave Spicer (Odd Sox). Together or independently they will excite, enthral, and entertain. Hopefully we might see them together in next years' Anywhere Festival. If we're lucky, at Chris Osborne and Susan Bennett’s Australian Modern house, which is the perfect space for an intimate salon performance. On 21st May, each ticket-holder was individually welcomed by the owners and encouraged to relax, enjoy their hospitality, and linger after the show. Make sure you get an early copy of the Anywhere Festival program for next year and identify events taking place at this wonderful Carina home. The five events which took place this year at the Barry Walduck-designed Eisenmenger House all sold out, so you need to book early. Verdict: Fabulous.
Gin & Sin Jazz Salon was an exclusive 2-night only event as part of the 2016 Anywhere Festival.
The reviewer attended the Saturday 21st May, 2016 performance.