Saturday, January 06, 2007

Rosanne Cash

January 8th Update: A really enjoyable night. I've always admired Rosanne Cash for her honest, pragmatic and wry (see ie her Mrs L's Monthly column), she is a very warm presence on stage too. The show opened with an excerpt from a short film about her called "Mariners and Musicians," which is also screening as part of the Sydney Festival. There were two others throughout the show, the Daily Tele today described them as "schmaltzy" but I thought they were very well done and moving. And since collectively they only took up about five minutes of the entire 1hr 45min show, were a befitting addition to a show based around the heavily autobiographical Black Cadillac.

Bruce Elder (who was sitting behind me) made a sort-of interesting point (I know! ) in the Herald this morning, not online.

Last year, two very gifted female singer-songwriters, both with iconic country music fathers who had recently died, recorded albums about their sense of loss and the love they had for their fathers. On Saturday night, the American daughter was on stage. The Australian daughter was in the audience. The women in question are Rosanne Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash, and Anne Kirkpatrick, daughter of Slim Dusty.

If you want an example of Australian cultural cringe writ large, and the continuing musical howlers that seem to be a regular part of the Sydney Festival, there can be no finer example. Even Leo Schofield's sad errors of judgement about world music, when he was festival director, were never as cringe-worthy as this.

The review of the show (the one that was actually on, not the one that wasn't) which follows is pretty positive. It is an interesting point although I'm not entirely convinced, it isn't necessary to say Rosanne Cash shouldn't have been presented in order to champion Anne Kirkpatrick. And is one of the jobs of the Sydney Festival not to bring in arts from around the world? Maybe not, I confess to being a bit confused by its exact role in these areas. Presumably you can find Australian counterparts to every act in the thing -- where are the fringe events that usually accompany these official cultural displays?

Anyway. Bruce also says "[b]ut Cash is not an animated performer and she failed to excite the po-faced festival audience." This from the man who calls Dwight Yoakam charisma-less, so we can safely dismiss his opinion about what is and is not "animated." Still its true that the State Theatre doesn't lend itself to rowdy crowd behaviour. I was very engaged by the show but sat mostly passively in my Row G seat and only occasionally let loose with something more than clapping because ... I'd feel like a goose doing otherwise. You're not allowed to stand, not allowed to be at front of stage. I always feel a bit sorry for the performers in places like this, not alot of audience feedback to draw off. So, an unfair criticism. Put her at the Bald Faced Stag at 1am on a Saturday and we'll see some excitement!!

Brucie is absolutely correct in another comment though that the sound quality was the best he's heard at the State, it was pristine so we got to her voice in all its glory. I was hoping to see hubby and ace producer John Levanthal in the band but the three she had with her were faultless. Other than the Black Cadillac numbers, there were one or two older hits and a number from a list of "100 Essential Country Songs" her father gave her as a teenager -- personal favourite Sea of Heartbreak, Tennessee Flat Top Box, Wayfaring Stranger and a rather wonderful and surprising Ode to Billy Joe. I'll have some more words about Black Cadillac when I do my Best of 2006 this week.

Another Aussie blog review.
Lynden Barber in The Australian


Orrighty. I'm off now to see her at the State Theatre.

"House on the Lake" from the new album:

And an older fave, "Runaway Train." All very eighties (noice perm!) but I do have a soft spot for it.

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