Tuesday, June 23, 2015

ADELAIDE CABARET FESTIVAL Eddie Perfect in Songs From The Middle

Songs From The Middle

Music and Lyrics by Eddie Perfect. Musical Direction and Orchesttration by Iain Grandage. Musicians from the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM). Originally commissioned by ANAM and preniered at the Melbourne Cabaret Festival. The Dunstan Playhouse. The Adelaide Festival Centre. Adelaide Cabaret Festival. June 18 and 20. 2015

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Eddie Perfect in Songs From The Middle
Photo by billiejeanisnotmy lover brochure

Songs From The Middle is not quite what one may expect from Eddie Perfect.  Perfect’s  evocative, nostalgic and deeply personal song cycle is as far removed from a work such as Shane Warne: The Musical as one might expect.  Now in his thirties and with a child of his own, Perfect confronts the truths of his childhood and adolescence in Melbourne’s suburban Mentone. He is accompanied on stage by past and present members of the Australian National Academy of Music under the musical direction of Iain Grandage .  Perfect, as personable and engaging as ever plays the piano and sings his own songs of life in a suburb, once the holiday location of the very wealthy, and a haven for artists, such as Charles Conder.

Now approaching middle age, albeit at a very slow rate, Perfect looks back on his days in Mentone. Songs From The Middle is a reflective song cycle, wending its wat back to childhood memories of his schooldays at St. bede’s where his father taught and where he first confronted bullying and childhood infatuation. Through the pages of retired teacher, Leo Gamble’s history of Mentone, Perfect discovers the other side of a suburb that he couldn’t wait to escape. The anecdotes of his memories flow from the voice now softened by the chords of reflection. The Nepean Highway that freed him from unhappy   the same highway that leads him back to claim his discarded history.
Eddie Perfect. Photo by Julian Kingma

The magnificent orchestration carries us along on the crest of his nostalgia in the haunting sounds of the soulful flute, the percussive gentility of the xylophone, the whirling echoes of the wind hose and the stirring recollections of the string section. The orchestra carries us along on a wave of emotion that tends to overshadow the talented composer, singer and storyteller. Perfect is the ideal narrator of his own experience and his songs of experience resound with a universal truth that recalls our own pasts. For an hour, I too become a part of his world, with memories much the same in a different place and time. The schooldays crush, the moment of sporting pride, the battle with flat box building kits from Ikea. I am moved by his homage to Susan Morgan, the unrequited love, who sadly died recently.  Perfect’s songs, as personal as they are, are also the songs of other lives and this honesty lends Songs In The Middle a particular relevance.

Songs of rebellion, songs of tenderness, poignancy and nostaligia, they all shape the world of Perfect’s impressions of Mentone – funny, sad, insightful and accepting. Songs From The Middle does not absolve the anger or the pain. It is not a pronouncement of penance. It is an acceptance of the past and a journey of understanding that is mature, profound and the honest song cycle of a man who can now claim the legacy of his upbringing in Mentone. It is an epiphany that we all can and should make.