After a somewhat abrupt introductory poetry voice-over, Jake Dennis slipped onstage and oozed his way into a lovely rendition of the Bill Withers standard Ain’t No Sunshine.
This is an interesting show. The impish, pixie-like Dennis has a fine voice and an impressive vocal range.
A couple of factors worked against my total enjoyment of the show. Rhoda Lopez and Ross Vegas are seasoned professionals and their direction is excellent. The script by Dennis himself is not too bad either, with nifty links and segues to a fabulous variety of songs. Think Ray Charles, Maroon 5, Cole Porter, Bruno Mars, Nina Simone, Adele and the Police. Clever stuff.
But who is in charge of wardrobe? Cream loafers with dinner suit trousers and a red, silky shirt? A seal-like, shiny panne velvet jacket over casuals in the second half? Diamond studs in each ear. Distracting!
However, I should move on to the actual musicianship and marvellous it was. Mint Jazz Band covered themselves in glory. The tight time-keeper, Nathan O’Brien never faltered, the bass player, Kate Pass, was the delightful surprise packet of the evening. Alana Macpherson was deliciously adept on sax.
What a retro-treat it was to see such a young, vibrant ensemble recreate the classic night club vibe of the 50’s/60’s, where a singer introduces a song and each member goes on to cleverly embroider the theme instrumentally. The attentive audience responded warmly to each excellent solo.
Jake Dennis, himself, has charm to spare. He has the voice and the moves. His verse leaves me relatively unmoved, although I should record the erotic poem, Mango, created a major giggly reaction at the older female table next to me.
His song writing debut, Like Blown Smoke was just lovely. I hope he will go far. Like so many others in Perth’s healthy after dark scene, he has the talent, wit and presence.
I wish him luck and happy opportunities!
LIKE BLOWN SMOKE
Devised by Jake Dennis
Director Rhoda Lopez and Ross Vegas
Venue: DownStairs at the Maj, 825 Hay St, Perth
Dates: 18 – 20 Sep, 2014
Bookings: 1300 795 012 | ticketek.com.au