Whether lamenting or romanticising pain, or revelling in love or lust (or both), Tim Rogers in Last Night When We Were Young completely wooed us with his honesty, wit and trademark self-deprecation.
It’s been said that one of the best things about music is the discoveries that you make and the journey you go on. And on Thursday night, we witnessed an intimate performance – stories cum conversations between Rogers and past loves.
Looking devilishly elegant (thanks to Anton’s of Melbourne), the first set began ever so quietly. Dimly lit, minimal props – a retro cocktail bar and Kentia Palm – the production design made room for our imagination and it felt like we were following him around in this series of memories. At times heart wrenchingly tender, and so fitting for the tone of the piece.
He performed musically diverse numbers that worked well theatrically, from the likes of Randy Newman (three in fact – he clearly adores him and so do I), Loudon Wainwright III, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Warren Zevon, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Hoagy Carmichael and Lieber and Stoller. And then beautifully complimented them with his own compositions. As a lyricist, he captures the mundane and poetic beautifully “a water logged ball that no one wants to kick around anymore” (ah, that one gets me every time) and in doing so, draws out visceral elements of the songs that fit his character’s attributes.
Accompanied by Clio Renner on piano, Xani Kolac on electric violin and Shane O’Mara on guitar, they made the most glorious sounds that not only honoured the material but delivered performances that were sensitive to what was happening in the moment.
I was particularly enamoured with his renditions of Randy Newman’s “Marie” & “Losing You” and Mary Margaret O’Hara’s “I Don’t Care”, and struck by the back stories to Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” and his own “Ridin’ Between My Place And Ours” and “Forgiveness”. But it wasn’t all love and other catastrophes. Jake Thacheray’s, “The Lodger” was a hoot – a right knees-up, oo er missus ditty that Rogers camped up magnificently. And he closed the evening with what he called, “a deeply odd tune”, Leiber and Stoller’s, “Is that all there is?” whilst reciting snippets from a Dorothy Parker poem, “Resume”. Its black humour very appropriate indeed.
Every live experience is unique. A one-off. And for those of you who are admirers of Mr Timothy Adrian Rogers – troubadour, flaneur, icon – if you missed it, therein should lie your regret.
Arts Centre Melbourne presents
Last Night When We Were Young:
Tim Rogers Sings Songs of Love and Loss
Venue: Playhouse Theatre | Arts Centre Melbourne
Date: 4 August 2016