Friday, June 16, 2017


Tine del Twist. Photo by Stan Munro

Tina del Twist - Gold Class. 

The Artspace. Adelaide Cabaret Festival. June 15 and 16 2017.

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins 

She swaggers onto the small Artspace stage, an apparition of a faded Norma Desmond and a betranced Madame Arcati, bottle in hand and wavering arms outsretched toward the mike stand. Country clad , lean faced guitarist Stephen Weir sits silently by, with doleful eyes ready for command. Through the haze of stupor the alter ego of Wes Snelling croons the velvet sounds of Michael Buble’s Feeling Good before reaching for another bottle at the piano. Tina and her dexterous guitarist Twist stir up a cocktail mix of melancholy and maudling musing. Maybe it’s just jet lag from her vast travels to "Tokyo and then Japan and then Asia", or her memories of her time at Woodstock in 1969, when she danced naked to the song of Jefferson Airplane.  It’s an experience the forty-eight year old Tina is unlikely to forget.

And so the evening goes on through the alcoholic haze, inviting the audience to cry out We love you Tina and front row Thomas” to scream Get off the stage you rancid f******whore. Snatches of song  from the Great American Songbook are interrupted to hurl insults at the lapdog Twist, stagger between the tables or take another slug from the Coolibah flask during her reeling rendition of the real Australian national anthem. In her version "billabong" is an icecream she tells her audience while reclining on the floor..

The show  slips by interspersed with Willy Nelson’s Roll me up and smoke me when I die and Nat King Cole’s hauntingly sung Nature Boy. Comedian and singer Snelling sings the light nihilistic with a touch of decadent self-deprecation.  Her show runs slightly short of the advertised sixty minutes, but it has already played out its gimmick of a besotted female impersonator. It’s fun for an audience that enjoys the staggering, stumbling character, comical in her carelessness. Snelling has a voice that could smooth starch and a talent to amuse, but a sixty minute show can drag out the comedy. Her ten minute segment at Ali McGregor’s wonderful Backstage Club allowed song and character to find the balance that paid tribute to the talent. At Gold Class, there was too much bronze to dull the real impact of this artist’s talent.

There is a tendency for some cabaret artists to ply a character to carry the show. The risk is that the quest for comedy may lead one from the discovery of a talent that needs no artifice.  Witness the magic of Dianne Reeves or the sheer vocal wizardry of Ali McGregor. But then it takes all types to make a cabaret and Tina Del Twist is certain to twist one person’s fancy and turn another’s off.