Browse reviews

FringeReview UK 2017

Mikelangelo: Cave – Waits – Cohen


Genre: Cabaret, Music

Venue: The Rialto Theatre Brighton


Low Down

“Acclaimed crooner Mikelangelo (Black Sea Gentlemen, La Clique) takes on three great poets of rock’n’roll: Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen, in a show filled with beauty, power and humour.”


It all began a bit politely. A decent sized audience at the Rialto Theatre in Brighton had turned up to see acclaimed crooner for Australia Mikelangelo and this was his only gig outside the Edinburgh Fringe.

An evening of a blend of the songs of three legends, three icons – Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave. There was a sense of curiosity here – how was he going to deal out this set of cards musically?

Well, he just sang – at least at the start. Then slowly a bit more banter crept in and, somehow, by the end of the vening, we were in full blown cabaret mode, with Mike sitting cheekily on the laps of audience members as he thre in a few of his own tunes to add to the proceedings, a show that built and built, especially thanks to the breaking of a guitar string, a short break to fix it, and a second half that three the show into even more laughter, fun and enjoyment.

So  a music gig slipped easily into cababret an then ended on three Cohen songs that inclueded classics that I won’t mention here. You’ll have to go and find out what he chose from the enrmous repertoire of not just one, but three!

This is not an easy evening to pull off. Camille O’Sullivan does the likes of Waits and Cohen, but Mikelangelo opts for something very informal, will happily comment and commentate in the middle of a tune whilst remaining respectful of what and who he is interpreting here.

We go from guitar to accordion for all the right reasons and even just clapping rhythm and singing unaccompanied. This is an eveing that blends variety with focused choice. I preferred it when it was at its most silent with the easy informality of performing among us. I was less statisfied when it felt the fourth wall was less necessary – a man on a raised stage behind a microphone. Mikelangelo’s gift is to connect so easily with his audience.

This is a throughly enjoyable, often moving night of song and chat, of music we have come to hear and are then surprised at how the performer has interprted numbers we all know in creative and enjoyable ways, even turning one moody piece into a sea shanty!

I’m happy to highly recommend this excellent performer. He isn’t a perfection seeker but often glides into that anyay. He croons for sure, but often that crooning becomes something subtler as he plays with silence, with rhythm, with darkness dancing with happiness, with lullaby and with story. It all mixes together here and the blend is a successful one. This is an excellent cabaret performer who puts the music to the service of a satisfying dialogue with his audience.