Paul Capsis. The man, the myth, the enigma.
I have been a fan of Capsis’ since I watched him explode on the screen in ‘Head On’. Then seeing him as the totally mad, flamboyant reincarnation of Rumpelstiltskin in the State Theatre and Windmill collaboration – I was smitten.
An award-winning, versatile, original and seasoned performer, he knows how to turn it on and turn it up.
And he has been non stop since.
Making a dramatic entrance and belching out the Skyhooks 70s classic ‘Ego is Not a Dirty Word’, we realise that this will be a night full of unexpected eccentricities and rip-roaring, emotion charged entertainment.
And not only with Capsis out front, but with the marvellous and musically gifted Jethro Woodward and The Fitzroy Youth Orchestra supporting, we knew we were going to be witnessing something of a rarity.
Wrapped in leather, fur and jewels, Capsis informs us he received a call from Julia Zemiro to be part of the Ad Cab Fest in 2019, after a five year absence.
However, she had one condition. He has to talk.
With some pearls of wisdom and witty one liners, delivered in true Capsis style, we are treated to his TED talk through song, as he calls it.
By means of his incredible musical interpretations of classics such as Sonny Bono’s ‘Bang Bang’ to Nina Simone’s ‘Feelin Good’ and everything in between, we are taken on a rock ride through the 1970s, an era that Capsis says ‘changed his life and gave him hope’.
I sat on the edge of my seat in anticipation of his next note, his next song. Each one pushing further than the last – musically, emotionally, physically.
The orchestra really are next level. Their phrasing and arrangements are just sensational, and are a perfect match for the extraordinary Capsis. Although a small, four piece, they truly sounded like a full symphonia, as each member was multi-instrumental. So very talented indeed.
Their psychedelic rock sound transported the crowd to another time, especially during Suicide’s ‘Ghostrider’. By this stage the fur is gone to reveal Capsis’ lithe body, his super sparkly vest and shirt combo.
Next they bring out their swamp music, as they affectionately dubbed it, and with Tina Turner’s ‘Proud Mary’ the audience really step it up and are now well and truly enveloped in the Capsis captivation.
It wouldn’t be a 70s rock night without Janis Joplin’s ‘Piece of My Heart’ to finish off the night.
While it seemed like he was battling a cold, as a consummate professional, he didn’t let that stop him from giving the audience his absolute all, and his vocals did not falter.
His unbelievable tone in his lower register and his distinguished rockstar falsetto were on full show!
Capsis is a true rarity in this industry; he has sustained such longevity, and carved a space in our Australian music and cabaret landscape that belongs to him and only him.
Before he disappears, he implores us to tell Julia he talked. Don’t worry, we will.
An original chameleon. An Aussie icon. A true gem.
Happy theatre travels…
This review also features on the Theatre Travels website – www.theatretravels.org