Like a deliciously addictive treat, cabaret performer, Michael Griffiths, leaves you wanting more and more. Successfully combining cabaret with storytelling, this Helpmann Award Winner, sits at a piano and appears to oh so effortlessly, play and sing and raconteur.
Delightfully debonair sporting snazzy socks, Michael to me, channels a young Noel Coward, with his poise, wit and flamboyance. Wowing us (and wooing us) with a collection of romantic, witty and melancholy songs, ranging from the elegance of Cole Porter to the extremely catchy pop, synth riffs of 80s pop icons and childhood idols, as part of the Jazz High Tea 2017 season at the Arts Centre Melbourne.
It’s an intimate show. You feel like you’re being entertained by a dear friend, one who is so obviously emotionally invested in each song and holds such affection for the artists that he pays homage to.
Each song has its own identity, which he captures beautifully, not just in the performance but with its accompanying anecdote – whether it be a confession (as in an adolescence spent in Adelaide, découpag-ing his bedroom walls and door with posters of A-ha from Smash Hits and Countdown magazines – you had me at découpage), to admiration for Madonna’s lesser acknowledged songwriting talents, with her middle 8 bar structure in Express Yourself. To loving Annie Lennox’s quite Shakespearean, Thorn in My Side”(dancing optional), to “not forgiving” the American Broadway producers of Priscilla Queen of the Desert for ditching Petula Clark’s Downtown or even more incredulously, Charlene’s poignant ballad I’ve Never Been To Me.
We’re indulging on a musical buffet from the 80s, treated to Spandau Ballet’s Gold, Duran Duran’s View To A Kill, Howard Jones’ No One Is To Blame and Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon and I don’t want it to stop. I feel like I’m back at my Year 12 Social at the Pagoda Ballroom (minus the talent and taffeta dresses). But alas 5.30pm rolls on, and you sense that he reluctantly finishes the show, closing with Peter Allen’s intensely revealing,Tenterfield Saddler and stirring I Still Call Australia Home.
And so Michael Griffiths take a bow. You’re so deserving of all the accolades that have come your way – what with your perfect diction and perfect posture and self-deprecating good humour. When you’re done wooing the English at the Elgar Room at Royal Albert Hall this week, and performing at the Edinburgh Fringe and touring Western Australia and Tasmania and New Zealand, please come back. “Civilised Melbourne at 4pm on a Sunday” misses you.
Arts Centre Melbourne presents
Jazz High Tea
Venue: The Pavilion | Arts Centre Melbourne
Date: 2 July, 2017 (First Sunday every month March to December 2017)
Bookings: artscentremelbourne.com.au | 1300 182 183