This is a slinky and super-smooth show. Kim Smith is cool, lithe and consummate with all the confidence and presence needed to allow you sit back, no effort required, and be entertained. Carried off, as it were, to a time and place where degradation and heartache could be glamorous as well as despairing. With just his voice and delivery, and accompanied by the impressive Amanda Coulton on piano, Smith recreates the seductive decadence of the kabarett performances of Weimar Berlin. Smith makes his entrance after the musical introduction, a dark and atmospheric score called Morphium; you half expect Bela Lugosi to leap out from behind the red curtains.
Smith just knows he will soon have the audience eating out of his palm, probably even sucking his fingers. 'You will adore me!' He is most definitely mesmerising and compelling. It's a treat to have modern songs, like that wonderful 60s classic You Keep Me Hanging On, given the old style cabaret treatment. Some of the songs are classics from the kabarett era and others are more familiar, from a Kylie Minogue number to a German version of Over the Rainbow.
If there's any criticism at all of Morphium to be made, it's that Smith, when singing in German or French, doesn't quite connect with the particular cadences of those languages, the grunt of the German is missing and so too the 'zooshy vavoom' of French. He could be singing in Ipsim Lorem or Esperanto. His performance is very nearly too smooth, too controlled, too mannered and polished so that we don't relate to his real pain. The emotional (and vocal) ranges exists on one level and he very nicely corrupts the meaning of the songs, making them into a gay boy's lament, but on another it is all so wonderfully rehearsed and professionally stylish it lacks those moments of authentic vulnerability. Until, saving the best til last, he offers a stunning version of Miss Me, giving it an unforgettable spin.
The Butterfly Club
Venue: The Butterfly Club | 204 Bank Street, South Melbourne
Dates: 24 - 27 June, 2010
Times: Thursday to Saturday at 9pm, Sunday at 8pm
Tickets: $27 Full/$22 Concession.