We had a great night out on Friday: dinner at deVine, Elaine Paige concert at the State Theatre and an amazing new talent: New Zealand’s Nic Kyle. He nearly stole the night – brave of Elaine to gift him that but then I suppose it was in part the surprise and unexpected nature of it. We got what we expected from Elaine but, Nic, well, wow!
But, first, dinner. I like deVine, which is on the corner of Market Street and Clarence Street in Sydney’s CBD. It has a great wine list and the food – Italian style – is always tasty. It is a moody place, quite dark, and, on a Friday night, busy and loud. However, the sardines for the entrée (starter for my British friends) were very tasty and the egg papardelle with duck ragout & crisp sage were scrumptious. And I went for an Austrian – yes, Austrian, not a mistyped Australian – red wine for a change: 2006 Cabernet Merlot , Hartl Amicus, from Niederoesterreich. Find moreabout deVine here.
The State Theatre on Market Street, Sydney, is stunning. It was built in 1929 with spacious, high-ceilinged foyers and staircases covered with elaborate gilt decoration, accented in red. We had seats in the second row of the dress circle, which is great viewing. Catch a look at the virtual tour here.
Elaine Paige is nearing the end of a tour of New Zealand and Australia. She did two 50-minute halves of old favourites with a couple of new songs thrown and a quarter-set of jazz numbers. We liked her dramatic performances of her classic numbers best and my favourites were those I’d personally seen her sing on stage: Nobody’s Side and I know him so well from Chess and As if we never said goodbye from Sunset Boulevard.
It was interesting experiencing her artistic choices. I thought Don’t cry for me, Argentina was a bit fast and then All that Jazz was just in a very odd arrangement, which just lost the rhythmic finger-clicking that we all know from the film and most recent stage productions. However, it also seems to me that a singer should try new things.
She tackled Dreamed a Dream, from Les Misérables and made even more famous by Susan Boyle’s first appearance on Britain’s Got Talent. Her performance captured the raw anguish and heart-break of the moment better than most I’ve seen in the last year or so – and that includes several London stage versions.
She also sang The Closest Thing to Crazy, the Mike Batt song that launched Katie Melua onto the waiting world when Katie was 19. It was a choice that could have been designed to irritate Graham, a fan of the original. However, it was a great performance. My only argument was that, as well as changing the musical arrangement, I thought it would have been a moving addition to change the lyric. “Feeling 22, acting 17” is all very well for Katie but it could have made it a whole different story to sing: feeling 62, acting 17! And, I know it’s not polite to ask a lady’s age – but the emotion that could stir would be worth it! I’m tempted to try it at my next Karaoke, feeling 52, but I don’t want to have to wait 20 years for my next Karaoke! Think about it… Joke!
Graham was cock-a-hoop, having predicted her closing group of songs: Memories from Cats and Just One Look from Sunset Boulevard.
OK, I’m drivelling on and still haven’t got to NIC KYLE. Yes, that’s how you spell it: all sub-editors and bloggers, please copy.
After a brief overture, he opened the show, setting the scene for Evita’s big number with an awesome version of Oh, what a circus! Eat your hearts out, David Essex and Antonio Banderas! He dueted with Elaine on Nobody’s Side from Chess. He nailed Sunset Boulevard. He then stole the show twice: in the first half with a version of Burn for You, the John Farnham hit; and in the second with a dramatic rendition of Gethsemane from Jesus Christ Superstar. What impresses me most, thinking back on it, is that I didn’t know those songs very well and yet I was still amazed by the performance. The man has a great voice, presence and dramatic skill. Cast him in something big, someone!
Here’s where you can find more about him. Enjoy!