If you can pull a crowd when the temperature's over 40 degrees then you're doing something right.
Robert Green knows his Noël Coward as he's been performing his songs for 30 years now. Unlike some other Noel Coward tribute shows, Green isn't pretending to be Coward (onstage or off) but he delivers those wonderful wordy songs with all the aplomb, fluency and professionalism you'd hope for.
Here and Now isn't about Green or his ego, it's all about his subject; he shares anecdotes and snippets about Coward and beautifully brings to life the stories behind the songs and the emotions they carry. If Green's voice isn't what it once was, if he's not always hitting the notes, it doesn't matter, his verve and presence and mastery of the music carry the night. and more than make up for any technical tirednesses. Green's commitment and his own enjoyment of his performance of the once child prodigy Coward cancel out any flaws in his singing. (It was a very hot night upstairs at The Butterfly Club the night I went; no-one would have been at their best).
Green's enunciation is flawless and these are difficult songs to deliver, shifting as they often do into spoken verse. I Went to a Marvelous Party includes references to famous Australian names in a deliciously gossipy vein. Green's version of Mad About the Boy is moving and it's lovely to hear the story behind this song along with a 'secret' fifth verse not often performed. Brief Encounters we learn, actually came from a short story before it inspired David Lean's film.
Green's strength is in bringing a fresh presence to such well-known songs such as The Stately Homes of England, Has Anybody Seen Our Ship, Here and Now, and where the songs have a contemporary resonance, This is a Changing World, for example, conveying that feeling with real emotional subtext. There's an amusing history to the reaction to Let's Not Be Beastly to the Germans at the time, where the famed British sense of irony failed. Green concludes most appropriately with Mad Dogs and Englishmen and a medley of Here and Now. A lovely show, accompanied by pianist Alexander Sussman.
Robert Green’s Cabaret Live presents
Here and Now – The Songs of Noël Coward
part of the 2014 Midsumma Festival
Venue: The Butterfly Club - Carson Pl (off Little Collins St), Melbourne
Dates: 15 – 19 January, 2014
Times: Thu – Sat 7pm, Wed and Sun 6pm
Tickets: $23 – $20
Bookings: 03 9663 8107 | www.midsumma.org.au | www.thebutterflyclub.com