Ali McGregor – Fool’s Gold

ACM-Ali-McGregorKnown around Australia for La Clique or her Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night, Ali McGregor is a former Artistic Director of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Now, in her “golden year”, the songstress has returned, with six-piece band, to present (the curiously named) Fool’s Gold.

In past efforts, such as in the awarded show Alchemy a decade ago, McGregor has sought to turn pop music “trash into treasure”. A title like Fool’s Gold could give the opposite impression. However, even an audience unfamiliar with McGregor’s offerings would quickly see that this new show is both glistening and of an uncommon quality. As you would expect for a high-class cabaret show, our singer has the wardrobe to match the occasion.

The programme explored a few veins of McGregor’s musical interests. Songs drawn from her teen listening by INXS (Never Tear Us Apart) and The Motels (Total Control) were given the kind of dramatic reinvention only a singer trained in opera (or maybe a dramatic sort like William Shatner?!) could provide.

Selections from the 90’s, when McGregor was studying in Manchester, included bands as diverse as Blur and Aqua. By shifting mood and tempo, our performers put a fresh polish on songs that may have dimmed due to familiarity.

A bracket on the songs of Yma Sumac was mining less-familiar terrain for anyone new to the “exotica” of the mid 20 century. Here McGregor showed off her range, as well as a raucous side, and a degree of obsession with the Peruvian singer.

With Musical Director Sam Keevers presiding over a tight group, many of the band have worked with McGregor before, and this experience showed. The ensemble collaborated attentively with the vocals.

Real gold is valuable because it’s rare, and similarly, this musical gold was only on offer for one night. Surely a show like this has to tour, as many will appreciate a playful evening with this kind of lustre.

Ali McGregor – Fool’s Gold
Dunstan Playhouse – Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Performance: Saturday 10 June 2023 – 8.00pm

Image: Ali McGregor (supplied)

Review: Jason Whyte