Adelaide Fringe 2015
With over 10 million views on YouTube of his cover of Lorde’s Royals, Puddles is rapidly gaining a worldwide following. Puddles Pity Party (the name of his band) even opened for Eels on their 2013 US and European tour. He is one of the most engaging (and sometimes intimidating — he is, after all, a six-foot-eight clown with a withering stare) singers I’ve had the pleasure to witness. His repertoire varied wildly from Leonard Cohen to Sia, from Celine Dion to Metallica.
The gigantic Puddles — a.k.a. Michael Geier — loped miserably into Le Cascadeur at 9:30pm carrying his signature suitcase emblazoned with ‘Puddles Pity Party’ and the room fell eerily silent while he stood on stage and chewed what looked to be about 8 sticks of gum, or possibly a tissue (it was dark). Dressed all in white — with white makeup covering his entire head, save for his red nose and highlights — he chewed, and chewed. And chewed, and chewed. We waited patiently, then people started to giggle because of the ridiculous, silent, slightly uncomfortable situation. It was the perfect way to establish control over the audience. This was his house. His rules.
Now, be warned, if you go to see Puddles perform there is good chance you will spend some time on stage with him, either singing or as a prop. If you’re uncomfortable with this idea, make sure to look him straight in the eyes, if you look away you’re a goner. He can smell fear. Also, Puddles does not take no for an answer. If he wants you to sing, then you will sing — he might kindly ask the audience to help if you’re struggling though.
Within minutes of the show starting, our sad hero had dragged a brave soul up onto the stage to sing a Beatles tune, by himself. It was one of the highlights of the show, it was so raw and real. He made a brave attempt and received a suitable amount of love from the audience.
Puddles’ eyes were ceaselessly darting around the room, longing for a connection. His face was also constantly twitching, or frowning, or looking annoyed. Until he began to sing; that’s when he looked truly at ease. The stunning depth and range of his voice coupled with his manic, prowling stage presence had the room entranced. Each tune was accompanied by graphics projected onto a screen behind our morose host.
As he delivered flawless renditions of tunes originally sung by the likes of Shirley Bassey and ABBA, the towering Puddles crept through the crowd, giving people an up-close-and-personal private serenade, complete with hugs and head rubs. It was part of his lusting for a personal connection, and he got it, in spades. Although, some of the recipients did look a little uncomfortable.
The crowd went bonkers for Puddles’ touching vocal tribute to the great Kevin Costner — accompanied by images from his films — with whom he clearly shares a powerful bond (I won’t tell you what the song was, it’s a surprise). This was one of the emotional highlights of the night.
The sound setup perfectly captured and delivered the bass-filled tones of Puddles’ voice, and the venue’s circus-tent appearance suited his character perfectly. Funny, moving, and engaging, Puddles’ performance was a joy to behold. Plus, you get hugs after the show!