Tomás Ford: Gentleman & Disconcerter
Tomás Ford @ Sugar
8:30pm, Thu 3 Mar 2011
My previous encounter with Tomás Ford (at his Cabaret of Death) had most certainly been memorable, but as I scooted across town from Tie I brushed up on my post regarding that show… and the memories that came flooding back were utterly grin-worthy. I was further buoyed by the fact that a friend had seen this show earlier in the week, and had left ebullient. It had been great, she explained: “he crowd-surfed over all twenty of us.”
So I’m looking forward to a cracking show.
As I walk through sugar’s unassuming Rundle Street entrance, there’s a lone figure standing at the ticket-serving podium downstairs. Although I’m ten minutes early, I state my intention to see the show, and present my ticket; the man rips my stub, and then I realise that it’s Mr Ford himself. “It’s been a long time between Adelaide gigs,” I offer, and we leap into a great chat whilst we wait for the audience from Ben Darsow’s preceding show to clear. I nervously peek at Ford’s FringeTIX sheet, and enquire as to the number of pre-sales… it’s just me, and I’m a little bit sad.
The bulk of the crowd from Darsow’s show doesn’t clear out, and there’s certainly no effort on behalf of any staff to clear the room for Ford’s show. Tomás wanders over to them and announces that his show is free if they want to hang around; the remain around the bar, chatting with Darsow. Since there’s still only one paying punter – me – I suggest that maybe Tomás didn’t have to perform his cabaret act, and we could just sit and have a drink and a chat instead; he laughed, saying “let’s see how it goes.”
And, whilst his computerised electro-gothic cabaret performance is pretty similar in style to the aforementioned Cabaret of Death, I still find it wonderfully inspiring. With a healthy mix of original songs and covers, all beat-heavy with murky lyrics and sung with an enthralling cabaret-menace, it was easy to forget that I was sitting alone in a puddle of plastic chairs, eerily serenaded by a quirky man with a top hat.
Oh – the stragglers from the earlier comedy show? They’d cleared out by the end of the second song. But that’s their loss, because Tomás Ford is awesome: leaping and sashaying and sliding across the stage, singing and tweaking his songs with little more than a laptop, a sample pad, and a mixer. And a great sound system. And a retro-futuristic light show projecting a digitally skewed rendition of himself onto a large screen.
The great thing about being the only person in the audience? Getting to choose a cover song (I went with Creep again – Ford makes it obnoxiously noisy at the start before tempering the electronica’s clipping to be creepily wonderful). The worst thing about being the only person in the audience? Discovering that one tubby man cannot support a crowd-surfing musician. Still, Ford sat amongst the crowd (i.e., next to me) for the final song, another serenade; carefully placing his top hat on my head, he said he had to give me something to write about.
As if he had to bother. Tomás Ford is a fantastic performer, and one day I hope to see him in the presence of a crowd of like-minded individuals… because he deserves such an audience.