Having seen the brilliant extended full band version of Harry Baulderstone and Marcus Ryan’s Feelin’ Groovy: The Songs of Simon & Garfunkel at the Arkaba Top Room as part of last year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival, I confess that I probably had unrealistic expectations of the stripped down, and now band-less, acoustic version of the show that is being presented at this year’s Fringe in the small confined space of La Petite Grande in Gluttony.
The talented duo, in the main, are still singing these songs beautifully, but – in this unforgiving environment – the performance did not ascend to the greatness of which they have proved themselves capable previously, as they crammed in as many tunes as possible into the 50 minutes they are on stage.
The cramped space; the regular unwanted intrusion of sound from other shows that constantly bled into the quieter tunes; and the imbalance in the sound that had the speaker on stage left, close to where I was sitting, cancel out Marcus Ryan’s vocal harmonies and keyboard accompaniment, all contributed to my feeling of frustration, knowing that these guys deserved better because they really are great talents.
The song selection tried to cover all aspects of the Simon & Garfunkel stylistic spectrum, but time restraints ensured a number of these had to be played only as tantalisingly short snippets here included in medleys, another factor which did not allow the full power of these songs and the usual quality of their interpretations to be adequately conveyed.
Both performers are certainly accomplished musicians and Baulderstone’s acoustic guitar work was pretty much faultless throughout, albeit unnecessarily loud at times for such a small venue. His electric piano on Bridge Over Troubled Water, was ironically, a little too quiet, but note perfect all the same. Ryan’s guitar work was equally strong, with some tasty lead licks thrown in on occasion, but his keyboard work on The Only Living Boy In New York was so low down in the mix it was inaudible from my seat. I did watch his fingers on the keys and I am fairly certain that he was hitting the right notes and chords!
The duo reassured us all that they intend to keep this show alive and continue to perform it other events throughout the year.
This is good news, and I would highly recommend that people who have not caught this tribute to Simon & Garfunkel as yet should make sure that they do so at some point in the future, but, if it is to be in this venue, try and look beyond the handicaps under which they must labour here, otherwise you may find that your appreciation may be muted.
3 1/2 stars
Feelin’ Groovy: The Songs Of Simon & Garfunkel is playing at La Petite Grande in Gluttony for four more shows, nightly until March 4.
Tickets are available here: Feeling’ Groovy tix