Sarah Gaul @ La Bohème – Upstairs

6:00pm, Sat 13 Feb 2016

After a bit of a rocky start, I’ve become a massive fan of Sarah Gaul – her show two years ago was a brilliant bit of cabaret, and my desire to see SLUMBERLAND pretty much shaped my Scheduling for this Saturday. Of course, I’d completely forgotten that there was supposed to be a Fringe Parade (and other assorted hijinks) in the city this evening, resulting in a… well, thin crowd at La Bohème. Six people, actually, some of which didn’t appear to have English as a first language (which always concerns me with a show which relies heavily on nuanced dialogue for humour).

I hate to admit it, but I really stared at Gaul as she took to the stage and sat behind her piano – I (perversely) wanted to see whether she was phased by the pittance of an audience. But if she was, she certainly wasn’t showing any signs of disappointment: she leapt into her opener, Morning Song of Mourning, with gusto, and its hangover-and-lack-of-caffeine feel was well matched by her soft-then-snarky delivery.

What I love most about Gaul is that her songs work as songs – they’re genuinely enjoyable tunes, generally revelling in the lower notes… Gaul relies heavily on her left hand. And whilst the subject matter is not necessarily original – there’s songs about her ex-boyfriends, her dog, and her aspirations for her yet-to-be-conceived daughter – her lyrics are sublime comedy, opening up with a gentle (even twee) premise before exposing something far, far darker… a classic one-two punch. Shooting Star typifies this attack, with a sharp twist that’s like a knife in the back of the song’s inspiration, and the now-familiar (but no less impressive) closing song about the drowning of her ex is a brutal delight.

Sure, the back third of the show lacked the intensity of the opening, but Sarah Gaul still proved herself to be a superb cabaret singer-songwriter. I’ll continue seeking her shows out wherever I can.

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