There are times when something you like is lessened by just being stretched too far. This applies somewhat to Siblings, the latest collaboration between musical Melbourne natives Mikelangelo and younger sister Anushka.
Troubadour Mikelangelo will be known to many for his years with The Black Sea Gentlemen or solo musical shows, a cameo in an offering like La Clique, or varied other works. His warm, rumbling voice has made me wonder if that’s what Elvis Presley would have sounded like had he been raised in the Balkans on fire-roasted capsicum instead of in Mississippi on fried chicken.
The music in Siblings was provided by Mikelangelo on guitar, piano and clarinet, and Dave Evans on accordion and piano. Recalling one aspect of the Black Sea Gentlemen era, it has a recognisable folk flavour. Also drawing on those times, many of Mikelangelo’s songs tell tales of incredible feats.
That’s often been Mikelangelo’s shtick, and he (usually) does it exceedingly well. Having developed his character over time, we’re prepared to go along on his quasi-mythological adventures in song. Sharing the stage with little sis’ was problematic though because the siblings were often competing for the same territory.
Aside from some weakness in the lower register that made her lyrics inaudible on occasion, Anushka does sing well. But, we don’t know her backstory, and the show doesn’t cultivate in, us much investment in her fictions. This might not matter if the tales were entertaining, except her offerings often had a very similar feel to those heard earlier from big brother.
My guest and I both had the disappointment of stretches that often felt quite samey, or hearing some metaphors overused and not developed, and finding some rhymes to feel quite contrived. As a long-time fan of “The Bull of the Balkans”, it’s not pleasant to report on indifference rather than the delight I’ve often felt in watching Mikelangelo perform.
However, there still might be promise in the concept of Siblings. Some of the strongest material related to their family connections, even if this is completely at odds with the backstory of Mikelangelo’s character. The tune The Art of Consumption was an amusing window into how the family evolved to view food. And, various stories of their childhood scattered throughout had cute or amusing moments.
Siblings is quite a new show. When it knows what it wants to be when it grows up we can expect it to be a better showcase for the talents of its performers.
Mikelangelo & Anushka: Siblings
The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place Melbourne
Performance: Thursday 15 February 2018 – 8.30pm
Season: 13 – 18 February 2018
For more information, visit: www.mikelangelo.net.au for details.
Image: Anushka and Mikelangelo (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte