Wes SnellingIn recent weeks The Malthouse Theatre has been warming up Melbourne's winter by presenting a series of cabaret events in the transformed Beckett Theatre. Gone are the theatre seats and in their place are tables and chairs in an arc around a raised stage, with a sparkling silver backdrop and art deco lights hanging off the ceiling. There is even a bar in one corner where thirsty audience members can refill their glasses between acts.

On Saturday last it was Wes Snelling's turn to occupy the stage with his show Released and he cheerfully welcomed his audience to the opening night of his one night season. 

First up was the wonderful Tina, accompanied by Twist (Stephen Weir) on guitar. Tina was clearly tired and emotional and more than a little jet-lagged. She wasn't sure which country she was in let alone which city. Between cheeky giggles and sips from her glass of wine she managed to deliver a melancholy blues version of Waltzing Matilda, from time to time seeking to interpret the lyrics for the audience: a billabong is an ice cream; a swagman is someone who carries a swag! Whatever your reaction to the comic asides the voice was something to savour.

Following a break, Wes returned in grey suit, sporting his trademark red fedora, carrying a cane and wearing one only 6” platform high heeled shoe. He was accompanied by Ben Hendry (also the musical director) on drums, Simon Mavin on keyboards and Jamie Barlow on bass. Then followed a variety of songs, linked with comic patter, everything from acknowledgment of the traditional owners – Carlton and United Breweries – to an hilarious account of his 30th birthday celebrations. I'm not sure that he remembers much about them, he certainly wasn't sure where he woke up the next morning. This led to a celebration of his father's 60th with Wes's own rendition of Slim Dusty's Walk a Country Mile – number 47 on Slim Dusty's top 100!

Snelling has a luscious and flexible voice that allows him to sing well in a wide range of styles. He also has great comic timing and a cheeky and engaging manner, both of which delighted the audience and had them calling for more. And not surprisingly the final encore was Bob Dylan's I Shall Be Released.

While you may have missed this Snelling performance there are bound to be others before too long and the Malthouse season still has two more performances left in this cabaret season:  Ruth Rogers-Wright - Fabulous Diva on 13 July and Aurora Kurth – Take the L out of Lover on 14 July. 

Malthouse Theatre Presents And The Colored Girls Go…
Wes Snelling

Beckett Theatre, CUB Malthouse
10pm July 7
9685 5111/ www.malthousetheatre.com.au

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