The Famous Spiegeltent | 2 March 2013
A funky keyboard riff starts and the glittery black-clad diva Renée Geyer emerges, looking completely at home on stage fronting an all-male four-piece band. It’s a full house, both seated and standing, and towards the front, an uber-fan in a pink jacket stands, his excitement bubbling over as he claps and welcomes Geyer. Further research uncovers that this is Victor De Sousa, who runs Geyer’s Facebook page, where her many fans gather online.
First song, Nasty Streak, written by Dan Kelly, is perfectly suited to her voice. It’s dark, low and spine-chilling. Suddenly De Sousa stands and races to the front of the stage, holding something up to Geyer as she sings. She notices him and initially shakes her head, then looks again. He is holding a large sparkling ring up to her. Her eyes widen as she takes it and places it on her hand, holding it out for all to see. She then takes it off, and the ring is returned to its owner in the audience, as Geyer says, “You wear it… you’re my visual effect.”
She proceeds with the show, bringing pizazz to her well-known songs, Say I Love You and Heading In The Right Direction, during which she displays a playful side with her raunchy miming to the line, “For your loving and affection”. She belts out Difficult Woman “for the girls”, then funks it up with Shakey Ground, a 1975 single by The Temptations, which prompts people standing at the back to erupt into full-on dance mode.
Slowing the pace expertly, My Funny Valentine is superb, featuring incredible double bass by Philip Rex. It’s interesting to hear Geyer say she draws the line at singing an Aretha Franklin song (her favourite singer), telling us it’s like “taking your life in your hands”. Instead she gives us a Gladys Knight classic, Midnight Train To Georgia, and the audience gets right into a joyous singalong call-and-response.
All too soon her allotted Spiegeltent hour is almost over and she rips into It’s A Man’s Man’s World. She ends with perfect style: bowing with hands outstretched, first in the direction of the fabulously effervescent De Sousa, then to the rest of the crowd. Though it is a short set, the band’s mastery of pace and mood make it memorable. The distinguished, glamourous woman that is Renée Geyer exits, heading straight for the merch table to meet her admiring fans.