I last saw Melissa Western in the 2017 Oh Lady Be Good. It has been far too long. The 1954: Ella, Etta Eartha show reminded me of the superb vocal range, compelling stage (well, wooden pallets) presence, and all round style of this fabulous cabaret artiste.
Anywhere Festival events at the fabulous home Australian Modern of Chris and Susan Osborne are always a highlight. An opportunity to enjoy an intimate concert, in a private home, with the ‘occasional’ glass of wine and post-show canapes thrown in. We decided to make this last official night of the festival as an ‘evening off.’ But I couldn’t resist sharing a few quick images and a ‘I was there’ comment.
The program promised 75 minutes, but the performers delivered an incredibly special 90-ish minutes of some of the best songs as performed by from Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James and Eartha Kitt. Together with her jazz band—Nathan Seiler (piano), Luke McIntosh (double bass), and Grace King (Drums)—Melissa Western delivered a memorable evening’s entertainment. Western is a stylish performer who is really engages with the audience, and performs some great songs. The music is marvellous, Western really connects with the audience, and we all marvelled at ‘that’ fabulous voice (and wonderful scat singing).
Personal highlights from the evening included: Etta James’ romantic At Last; Eartha Kitt’s C’est Si Bon and Let’s Do It (replete with the 21st century updates); and Ella Fitzgerald’s Blue Skies, Route 66, and Lullaby of Birdland (not only the singing and scat, but also the fabulous piano and drums ‘swing’). And how special to enjoy seeing Kim and Alby dancing to Etta James’ Good Rockin’ Daddy!
Melissa Western’s show at Australian Modern sold out so quickly that a second performance (also a sell-out) was added to the program. Look out for her at Brisbane Jazz Club and other great venues far and wide. My advice for future Anywhere Festival events continues to be that if it’s on at Australian Modern, then book it. You’ll enjoy a memorable evening: fabulous performers, great company, and a warm welcome to an intimate and stylish venue. I can’t wait for next May!
Verdict: Fabulous, fun, Anywhere Festival finale. Worth every cent.
Audience Information: Tickets $50. 90 minutes. 18+. The show had only 2 sell out performances during the Anywhere Festival (21 & 22 May).
The reviewer attended the 22nd May 2021 (7:30pm) performance. All pictures credit Creative Futures Photography