Freedman Does Nilsson is an engrossing exposé of Harry Nilsson, one of America’s greatest singer-songwriters, performed by Tim Freedman, one of Australia’s greatest singer-songwriters. The production is another ‘biopic cabaret’ and the result – a ‘live imagining’ of a Nilsson concert – is fascinating.
Harry Nilsson, a shy, enigmatic legend of popular music, was the creative spark behind many familiar tunes. He was a personal favourite of John Lennon and The Beatles, and his music has been recorded by the likes of The Monkees, Neil Diamond, and Ella Fitzgerald (to name just a few). While his life may have been complicated by drugs, alcohol and abandonment, his music (18 studio albums with 2 Grammys) was a steady stream of popularity.
Tim Freedman is becoming an Adelaide Cabaret Festival regular, and his shows are going from strength to strength. In 2012, Freedman enchanted Adelaide audiences with his Fireside Chat – essentially a concert of Whitlams tunes. In 2014, Freedman has fully immersed himself in the cabaret genre. The simplicity and intimacy of Freedman Does Nilsson is cabaret at its finest.
Freedman is clearly an exponent of the mantra ‘keep it simple’. The essential ingredients: a man, a piano and a story. Add in quality sound production and some mood lighting (the singular down light was incredibly effective) and you have a hit.
[pull_left]The simplicity and intimacy of Freedman Does Nilsson is cabaret at its finest[/pull_left]
The silky vocal prowess of Freedman suited the songs of Nilsson as much as his own compositions do. Songs like Everybody’s Talkin’, Gotta Get Up and One were clear crowd favourites, as was the semi-autobiographical 1941. In fact, as is often the case when Tim Freedman is performing, every number was exquisite. The delicate balance between piano and vocals (and occasional scat) was never offensive (and surprisingly, neither was Freedman’s American accent…)
You Can Leave Your Hat On and Living Without You rounded out the Freedman does Nilsson does Newman section of the show, highlighting how artists often have an affinity with another. For Nilsson it was Newman, and for Freedman it must be Nilsson.
First showcasing Fireside Chat and now Freedman does Nilsson at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, we wait with eager anticipation to see what Tim Freedman does next. In a risky production, far from the comfort of his own familiar tunes, this consummate professional has excelled again. I certainly hope that there’s a Freedman does Nilsson CD out soon!