Belly of a Drunken Piano
Tom Waits tribute fails to move
This article is from 2007.
When Stewart D’Arrietta takes to the stage beneath the cloak of darkness, he emits a tone-perfect Waitsian growl. There’s no doubting that this Australian troubadour knows and loves the songs and gets a kick out of being grumpy at a mobile going off and castigating the technical staff for the buzzing in his ear. But, as Waits himself has no doubt done after nights imitating a jockey full of bourbon, the performance falls between two stools.
Is D’Arrietta doing an impersonation or not? He certainly has the aural capacity to pull it off but, perhaps to avoid messing up his own voicebox, more often than not he chooses to actually sing. And his in-between-tunes selected biography of Waits simply distracts from any sense of an illusion being created. While it’s pleasing to hear some of those epic ballads being banged out on the old joanna, the likes of ‘Kentucky Avenue’ and ‘Invitation to the Blues’ have had their emotional core wrenched out. D’Arrietta simply comes out of all this as nothing more than a cheap(er) imitation. (Brian Donaldson)
Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 26 Aug (not 13), 11.59pm, £12–£13 (£11–£12).