Everyone’s favourite goth spinster music group – The Kransky Sisters of Mourne, Eve, and their younger half-sister Dawn – return to Melbourne with their latest show of cover tunes. This time around they’ve teamed up with ARIA-nominated quintet Topology, exposing the sisters to a new realm of material. While the performance kicked off with the original Star Trek TV show theme, for the Kranskys, Tunes from the Tube definitely heralds The Next Generation of their act.
In 2012, Topology and The Kransky Sisters gigged together in The Netherlands. To further that collaboration, Topology visited the Kranskys at their rural home in Esk, Queensland, bringing a television set. Banned by their late mother from the evils of TV, the sisters have only ever had the “wireless” for music. Making up for lost time with compulsive levels of viewing, The Kransky Sisters now have a wealth of TV show and film scores to interpret.
Some features of past Kransky shows get another run here. A slideshow sums up some of the events of touring and cohabitating in Esk. Audience laughter showed these images were as diverse and absurd as any we’ve seen before. Tuba-playing Dawn is still unable to talk (she sings with an impressive range though) as a result of the family breakdown she’s blamed for.
Eldest Mourne still competes with middle-sister Eve for male attention, this time from Topology members. Some of the Kransky’s favourite instruments are back, including a vintage electric organ, musical saw, toilet brush, tasselled tambourines and cooking pot played with doll legs.
TV themes given a special Kransky twist range from 1960s classics such as Get Smart and I Dream of Jeannie through to X-Files and Law and Order, taking in some Aussie shows along the way. The selections benefit from the fuller sound afforded by the piano, strings and brass of Topology. I was surprised to find myself moved by the quality of sound produced, as restraint on volume afforded nuance and interplay appropriate prominence. The Kranskys remind us of the quality of their voices, such as with soaring harmonies on The Vicar of Dibley theme.
They’ve also taken to watching Rage, leading to more modern selections such as Sia’s Chandelier and Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know given a particular emotional intensity. Aside from displaying their evolving musical tastes, the sisters also reveal more (maybe a bit too much) about their family history. Dawn shows her need for creative expression is not limited to playing music in a comedy highlight, and even Topology appear to succumb to the sisters DIY aesthetic.
At this first Melbourne show, it did seem that more could be done to make the interactions between Topology and the sisters a little less awkward and slight. However, the twist on themes and songs often had me grinning broadly, making the show much more entertaining than many of the predictable and tired styles of comedy around. It’s also good to see them branch out as their act could have risked repeating itself without some freshening up.
Tunes from the Tube is a whole lot of fun and a very successful makeover for the act. As it’s a short season at fortyfivedownstairs, it won’t wait like your TV on demand. And – despite the newly found ardour of The Kransky Sisters for telly – it’s a lot more rewarding than a night in front of the Idiot Box.
Topology and the Kransky Sisters: Tunes From The Tube
fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Performance: Wednesday 27 January 2016
Season continues to 31 January 2016
Bookings: (03) 9662 9966 or online at: www.fortyfivedownstairs.com
Image: Topology and The Kranksy Sisters join forces in Tunes From The Tube (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte