Abby Dobson @ The Spiegeltent
7:00pm, Fri 13 Mar 2009
Like my Standard Dance Disclaimer, there’s something I wind up typing every year: I love the cello. Let me reiterate for effect: I love the cello. Sure, the viola’s nice (I once lived in a set of townhouses next to someone who played viola for a Chamber Orchestra; I used to sit on my stairs and listen to her practice through the walls, sipping my coffee in bliss), and the double-bass has some big fat notes, but neither really approach the glory of the cello for me.
And that’s just as well for Abby Dobson, because if it wasn’t for her cellist, Mal Pinkerton, I’d be hard pressed for any positives to take from this show.
There was an utterly unremarkable start to the show, with Dobson (and her acoustic guitar) and Pinkerton wandering onto the stage; a quick & quiet “hi” from Abby, and they sauntered into the first song. And it was really quite good; I held great hopes for the rest of the show. But the songs soon fell into a predictable gentle guitar / understated cello rhythm, which was listenable enough; but Dobson’s vocal contribution was pretty forgettable.
That’s not to say she can’t sing – she’s got a decent voice, pure in tone, which she only really lets soar and roar in the closer. The big problem is her lyrics – they really are ordinary, and that’s being generous. The chap next to me agreed, calling them “simplistic” – again, leaning on the side of courtesy there. Deathly dull enough to send me to sleep by the third song, even her political song – titled “Rise Up” – was an exercise in tepid poetry.
Now – it must be said that I knew nothing of Dobson’s work before buying tonight’s ticket… which, judging by the reactions to some songs, puts me in the minority. But at least the cello bits were absolutely ace, economically understated, and worth the price of admission.
Hang on – that ticket was $35. Shit, that’s expensive. Ummmmm.