Ali McGregor’s Midnight Lullabies (FringeTIX)
Ali McGregor @ Bosco Theatre
5:00pm, Sat 24 Mar 2007
After having a lovely chat with Ali McGregor at the Adam Hills show, I was dead keen to drink in her singing again (she had performed, amongst other things, a great cover of Creep during La Clique last year). And so, in broad daylight – ironic, given the title of the show – a full-house packed into the Bosco… and we were treated to a blinder.
Ali plays her Autoharp (which she affectionately refers to as a zither), a tiny accordian, and uses that massive vocal range of hers to fantastic effect. Her percussionist sidekick, Ben Hendry, provides soft drum and glockenspiel accompaniment as they present a set of Ali’s fave tracks, including The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army, Radiohead’s Creep, and the Tom Waits song responsible for the show’s title. There’s a few more classical pieces befitting McGregor’s operatic background, and even an original composition.
Throughout, McGregor is faultless; her voice effortlessly ignores all boundaries, from bottomless bass to soaring soprano, and the Autoharp generates a very medieval, magical feel in the warming Bosco. Her sense of theatre is sublime – the doleful eyes when she hits the chorus of Creep are heart-wrenching.
However, nothing else in the show compares to the wellspring of emotion that appears when Adam Hills comes onstage. As I learnt the previous night, Hills has a soft spot for Banjo Paterson’s Clancy of the Overflow, which he recited (without safety notes for the first time!) over the top of McGregor & Hendry’s version of The Church’s Under The Milky Way. The effect of this blend was staggering; I’m not lying when I say that this was one of the most beautiful, magical, tear-jerking moments I’ve had in any performance ever.
Yes, it was that good.