MASTERS OF THE SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE
NZ International Comedy Festival 2012|
DEAD CAT BOUNCE
presented by COMEDY.CO.NZ PRODUCTIONS
NZ PREMIERE SEASON
at Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland
From 28 Apr 2012 to 5 May 2012
Reviewed by Kate Ward-Smythe, 29 Apr 2012
What a wild ride! On the opening night of Dead Cat Bounce's NZ debut, the crowd walk out raving, laughing and totally uplifted. This Irish trio is like a testosterone-fuelled glam-rock version of our own Flight of the Conchords or The Front Lawn. They are the most talented Irish musical-comedy trio I've seen, and it's no surprise to hear they've supported both Jimeon and The Darkness.
Lead singer James Walmsley thinks he's former Deep Purple vocalist and Whitesnake front man David Coverdale's love child.* To me, he's a dead-cert for Jim Morrison from The Doors, though this guy's got the added appeal of his leather-clad legs which have a sexy Edward-Scissor-like sway – a wonderful distracting show in itself.
Drummer Damo Fox, with his shiny pants, complex rhythms and counter-melodies, is a phenomenal human metronome. Plus his face is comedy gold, as are his witty side comments and perky little count-ins (“2, 3, drumming!”). His cheese-grater solo during the Johnny Cash-sounding Leeroy the Homophobic Penguin, plus his simultaneous command of the drums and a bass guitar during Really Tall Woman, are both amazing. While his drum solo is also a thing of wonder, Walmsley's guitar solo while at the same time making and drinking a cup of tea, is off the wall.
Being the least outwardly wacky member, by default, bassist Shane O'Brien seems like the ‘Everyman' of the trio. Yet he has his moments, no more so than when he picks up a bow and his electric bass and plays it in the style of a violinist.
Technically, the audio design is perfect for musical comedy, which is of course, all about the lyric. The vocals are mixed well forward, while the more easily manageable electronic (rather than acoustic) drum kit, guitar and electric bass, are a smooth supportive blend, well back in the overall mix.
The trio's chat between songs is well paced and as pitch-perfect as the vocals. Songs are generic and familiar on their ear – Older Woman is a variation on American Woman by The Guess Who and Old Macdonald Had A Farm will never be the same after hearing Down On The Farm. Each item is brilliantly played, with tight harmonies and commanding vocals.
Lyric wise, some songs are laced with a bit of social commentary (Boarder Control), but mostly they are a delicious opportunity for DCB to expose awkward circumstances – Christians In Love: “no discernable sense of rhythm” rhymed with “explosive cataclysm”, bring tears to my eyes – and mock everything that deserves to be mocked (Golf! Outfits; Comedy Drum & Bass). Just as hilarious are songs about bizarre situations (Kayaking) and characters (Cormac The Dancing Accountant, and of course, Leeroy.) Rugby, with its analysis of heads in the scrum, is a crowd favourite.
Masters of the seemingly impossible (simultaneous subtlety and hard-sell), they wind up with Let's Make Love, from their CD which happens to be available in the foyer, then oblige their new fans with a couple of encores.
I walk out of the theatre and straight to the merchandize. I never do that.
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*In the spirit of Spinal Tap, DCB shot a mockumentary called Discoverdale, tracing Walmsley's attempts to meet his “biological father”. Over the course of the low-budget improvised film, DCB are recruited into Whitesnake but are quickly fired. (Read more here.)
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