Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen
Diabolically good comic gypsy cabaret
This article is from 2009.
The gypsy cabaret troupe returns to the Fringe once more to assault audiences with their riotous mix of songs, storytelling and sinful behaviour. This year, the Balkan-styled, Australia-based five-piece have pitched up to promote their new album, Dead Men Tell a Thousand Tales, a collection of typically blackly comic songs that swing between gallows humour and wanton lust and passion.
It’s on stage, however, that the band really comes alive. They’re a motley crew of finely realised characters fronted by louse lothario Mikelangelo (baritone vocals and guitar) and featuring ratty Rufino the Catalan Casanova (violin), the Sphinx-like Great Muldavio (clarinet), handsome homicidal maniac Ivan (double bass) and solemn, Golem-like Guido Libido (piano accordion). An incorrigible braggart, Mikelangelo dominates the show with his booming voice, hulking presence and penchant for leaping into the audience to satiate his much-advertised sexual desires. But the rest of the band members all get their individual moments in the spotlight, too, telling their variously tragic tales and singing their songs of woe.
The energy and humour that drives the performance is highly infectious and constantly amusing, but beyond that Mikeangelo and his black-clad gents are seriously superb musicians. Regularly switching vocal duties and instrumentation (one balmy tune is performed on recorder, pennywhistle and marching drum), they play ballads and barnstormers with fine finesse and great gusto as required — and as exemplified during the opening number, ‘Dancing at the Devil’s Wedding’, and the closing one, ‘Sodomy is Not Just for Animals’. During the hour or so in between we’re treated to all kinds of odd diversions both musical (the spaghetti western soundtrack ‘Ten Long Years in the Saddle (Waiting for Death to Come)’) and comic (Mikelangelo’s discourse on the use of hair pomade in different continents around the world). Long may these deliciously dark gentlemen continue to stage their devilish cabaret.
Assembly Hall, 623 3030, until Aug 20, 10.05pm, £15 (£13); Queen’s Hall, 668 2019, 23—30 Aug (not 29), times vary, £14 (£12).