KRISSI WEISS is awed by Emma Dean and Jake Diefenbach’s “dramaturgical” cabaret fairy tale otherwise known as GEPPETTO.
Judith Wright Centre, Friday October 5
Heading into the Judith Wright Centre, this evening reminds me I’m getting just that little bit older. The appeal of comfortable seating in a theatre where the sound is sure to be crisp and not ear-bustlingly loud, feeling at home and amongst Brisbane’s alternative, arts-centric crowd and happy it will all be wrapped up well and truly on the conservative side of midnight is overwhelming evidence that I’ve passed 30. Apart from that, expectations are low. Certainly not because I don’t think the evening will be a pleasure, but because I genuinely have no idea what to expect.
Silver Sircus, who has received media endorsement from at least one-half of Geppetto that I’ve seen, open proceedings with an overtly theatrical journey between music from their own catalogue as well as dabbling in some Nick Cave, Kate Bush and David Bowie — with all three aforementioned artists being labelled “heroes” by singer Lucinda Shaw.
In three-piece mode, cellist Wayne Jennings and pianist Parmis Rose support Shaw’s storytelling. While all are extremely proficient musicians in their own right — and I do confess this is the first time I have seen Silver Sircus — most of the performance falls a little flat. Vocal melodies are occasionally hijacked by questionable pitch and the theatrical element of the set feels forced and insincere. Silver Sircus have a devout following and I’m sure there is a reason why, but I’m not seeing that tonight. Rose and Jennings are solid in their support roles to Shaw’s tortured-artist-meets-debauched-fairy stage presence, but something is missing.
Having first seen Emma Dean when she played second fiddle (literally) to Kate Miller-Heidke as her back-up singer and violinist, I will never forget watching an entire KMH set at Woodford captivated by the humble musician to the right of the star of the show and being speechless at the end. Dean and Brisbane’s own charming Peter Pan, Jake Diefenbach, joined forces through their cabaret fairy tale, An End To Dreaming, garnering solid reviews and in Geppetto, they establish their place as our new favourite exports.
From the very first song, pitch-perfect vocal harmonies layer atop virtuoso piano, jarring (in the good way) synthesiser, emotive violin and a floating guest drummer, leaving the audience gasping for air in between songs as we sit breathless during each four to five minutes of melodic bliss. They trade time on the gorgeous grand piano as well as the role of vocal lead. Due to their equally unique timbre and range, Diefenbach’s angelic tone is usually sitting at the top with Dean powerfully holding the bottom of each harmony.
“Kooky” and “quirky” undersells the sublime musicality of Geppetto and while the dramaturgical, cabaret, and Tim Burton-esque energy fills the room, the pair are above and beyond any of those labels. Moving through their EP Into The Woods — the release of which is the purpose of tonight’s show — the only faltering tonight is a sound problem in the last song (pre-encore) where Dean’s violin seems to crackle and lose volume. Everything that Geppetto touch tonight, though, turns into platinum and if Pinocchio wanted to be a real boy and Dean and Diefenbach are his creations, they have turned into real stars.
KRISSI WEISS is a writer, musician, wannabe filmmaker and science student — bores easily. A Rave regular, Krissi also writes about music and the arts for a number of interstate and international publications.