King of Flack
Artspace. Adelaide Festival Centre. June 17 2014
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
|Kim Spargo presents KING OF FLACK|
“I got through it without tears”, singer Kim Spargo proclaims triumphantly after a powerfully moving rendition of Roberta Flacks’ cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, which she sang to her dying mother. Some of her audience certainly didn’t. Spargo sings from the soul. There is heart in every note from the gentle sounds of Where is the Love to the soaring power of I Feel The Earth Move Under My Feet. King of Flak is Spargo’s tribute cabaret to Carole King and Roberta Flack, two of the greatest living female singer/songwriters. In the intimate Artspace above Adelaide Festival Centre’s Artspace and accompanied by her Collected Musicians Band, Spargo takes us on a melodic voyage of hit songs from repertoires of two remarkable artists. In a seventy minute show, she beguiles her audience with song, anecdotes, statistics and personal accounts that give this cabaret tribute a heartfelt resonance.
It is obvious that Spargo has special rapport with her band and vocal backing singers, who sway to her rhythms, smile warmly at her affectionate acknowledgement and accompany her with skill and versatility. There is a sense of family, of respect and of shared talent, which makes this a gentle and heartwarming tribute to King and Flack. However, this is not just an episode of easy listening. Spargo sings the stories of two women who suffered, struggled and triumphed. Their songs reflect the nature of love, of pain, of isolation and of resistance. There is longing in Roberta Flack’s Where is The Love, defiance, tinged with some regret, in Carol King’s Too Late Baby Now, assertion in Natural Woman and loving rapture in The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. Spargo’s vocal power can also be her vocal gentleness, soft and sincere, strong and resilient, and yet layered with a warmth and charm that lend humanity to every song. These are the melodies and lyrics of two great and enduring female artists, but they are also the songs of spirit that resonate in every audience’s breast.
I am in Adelaide for the final week of Kate Ceberano’s third and final Adelaide Cabaret Festival, and King of Flack is my introduction to another week of cabaret that I shall be reviewing for the Canberra Critics Circle. Each year I hope that many of the acts I see will make their way to Canberra, as have artists like Chita Rivera and Caroline Nin. Hometown chanteuse, Kim Spargo is an artist of rare talent because her singing goes beyond technical skill or accurate rendition, but rather engages with the heart with warmth and honest charm. Even her nervousness and very occasional mistakes at her first performance at this festival before an audience who remember only too well the Age of Tapestry or Play Misty For Me are accepted as the delightful glitches of a natural woman. King of Flack was a wonderful and fondly nostalgic way of being eased into a Cabaret Festival that is diverse, intimate and enormously entertaining.