In the 1990s, Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello joined forces to write the song, ‘God Give Me Strength’. They continued writing together, releasing the 1998 album, Painted from Memory. This production is a song-cycle showcasing songs from that album.
Luke Kennedy and Michael Falzon were last seen at the 2014 Adelaide Cabaret Festival as part of Swing on This which has since toured the country. Both performers are successful in their own rights, having achieved recognition through TV and stage musicals.
Lovers of the Bacharach/Costello album would be greatly satisfied hearing their favourite tracks sung live by two accomplished singers. Both Kennedy and Falzon looked sharp and clean-cut, lounging on chairs and crooning throughout.
The challenge of a song-cycle is finding the thread to connect each track and bringing a theatricality to connect with the audience. While each performer had shining moments vocally, the performance felt clinical and disconnected. With no back-story or context, each song felt very similar and there was little warmth or emotion projected from the singers. It felt like a live recording of a CD. Pleasant, yet distant.
Kennedy and Falzon were ably supported by the hardest working Adelaide musos in June, the Adelaide Art Orchestra (led by Musical Director, Isaac Hayward) and an un-credited female singer who provided a much-needed lightness to the cycle. The opening song of ‘Side 2’ with all three singers was a highlight with soaring harmonies and a glimpse of joy for the work and each other. More of this would have been very welcome.
I have no doubt that this performance could be loved by fans of the album, Painted from Memory and for this, the applause is deserved. It would be wonderful to feel this appreciation from the performers and have their delivery entice a few audience members who are new to the music into the story and appreciation of the piece.