Mike McLeish, singer and actor, has put together a witty, likeable show, aided by four terrific musicians, variously on drums, keyboard, double bass, accordion, guitar and clarinet (he’s on guitar too, as well as briefly on keyboard). The format is songs and patter, delivered in his usual engaging style. Coming to public notice through his playing of Keating, he has had his ups and downs (like all of us), and his latest solid gig seems to have been playing Vlad at Dracula’s Theatre Restaurant for some months, a job about which he has mixed feelings, to say the least. But the tone is jaunty, nonchalant, and nothing seems to worry him long.
The show begins quietly, and actually takes a while to ‘gel’, but along the way there are several rueful, self-mocking highlights, such as his experience of auditions for commercial musicals, ‘F# You Imported Hit Broadway Musical' Blues, glancing references to alcoholism, The Last Five Bottles, two more serious original songs, Stay and Get On Board, and a great version of Chris Isaak’s ambivalent look at love, Wicked Game. While many in the audience liked the obviously out there-tone of the more daringly-worded numbers or the rock star parody style of others, for me the slower, more introverted songs were the highlight, bringing out more warmth and sincerity in both voice and performance.
A good songwriter with a clear flexible voice, McLeish could do much worse than explore his own music, or alternatively get to work on the next good, new, small-scale Australian musical. We’d come.
the Arts Centre presents
The World Is Winning
Venue: The Famous Spiegeltent | 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
Date/Time: Friday 4 March, 7pm
Tickets: Adults $30, Concession $25
Booking: 1300 182 183