Paul McDermott (of the infamous Doug Anthony Allstars, GUD) and Steven “Gatesy” Gates (of the quite wholesome Tripod) are the “middle men” of their musical comedy groups. By what can only be magic, they join forces to Go Solo.
Having its origins in private collaborations between these long-time friends, Go Solo began as a one-off performance at the Ballarat Cabaret Festival in 2017, and recently had an Adelaide Fringe run. Originally slated for one 8.00pm Melbourne show, the addition of a matinee shows the pull of this pair.
We might imagine that the diplomatic “middle men” description comes from Gatesy, as Mr McDermott hasn’t been known for humility. Perhaps an (seemingly incongruous) period of hosting Think Tank on ABC TV with lame jokes has given him some time for reflection?
Freed of the old-man beard and frock coat worn on the box, McDermott, with Gatesy on guitar and harmonising, opened with a lament on the dimming of their fame such that they’re now ignored by the public.
The essence of the Doug Anthony All Stars flows through Go Solo. Shows by DAAS or McDermott seem to take particular delight in keeping the audience off balance as they veer through various topics and moods.
Banter between the performers, barbs at the audience, and certain songs earned good laughs, such White Man’s Prison on the irritations of being a white, middle-class, middle-aged man. McDermott acknowledged his reputation for arrogance when at the height of his fame with Marvellous Mr Me. Gatesy tried to join in with the act in his song to unsung heroes, but we can’t take him for an egotist quite so easily.
Recalling how DAAS might jump from the aggressive or offensive to the delicate, the gear shifts here could be stunning. Gatesy and McDermott reminded us how powerful harmonies can be. In a song to “a 1970s building material” with Gatesy on ukulele, the pair achieved the sort of heart-string-strumming pop that could have come from Crowded House.
Should I be thinking about the passing of time, and how vivid some memories become when events take us back to long-abandoned haunts in a comedy show? Well, that’s funny in a different way, I suppose.
After the show, I asked Paul about the show’s ambitions. On the way to meeting his adoring public, he said that the pair “wanted to sing some sweet songs.” Gatesy and McDermott succeeded grandly, and it hardly matters if this wasn’t your typical Melbourne International Comedy Festival show. In truth, it was a lot more memorable.
Paul McDermott & Gatesy – Go Solo
Melbourne Recital Centre, Southbank Boulevard, Southbank
Performance: Saturday 13 April 2019 – 2.00pm
You can catch Paul McDermott and Steven Gates live in Wollongong (23 April); the Gold Coast (8 May); and the City Recital Hall, Sydney (20 July). For more information, visit their Facebook Page for details.
Image: Paul McDermott and Steven Gates (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte