Adelaide Festival, Australia

Reviewed at The Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Australia by Bianca Barbaro for Australian Stage.

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival swooned into town alongside the impeccable company of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO), UK’s leading swing conductor John Wilson and velvety crooner Gary Williams, for– The Music of Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. Split into two sets, the first part of the program paid homage to the tunes of Nat King Cole, featuring some of the artist’s finest works such as Mona Lisa, Unforgettable, Let There Be Love and Route 66, while the second was dedicated to the tunes of Frank Sinatra. The journey of Old Blue Eyes didn’t disappoint the audience with the expected classics like The Lady is a Tramp, One for my Baby, I’ve Got You Under My Skin and Come Fly With Me.

The assemblage by John Wilson and the delivery of the ASO was impressive. The string section for Unforgettable was superb. Shut your eyes and you couldn’t help but be transported to another place and time. The visuals however, were a tad under-whelming. A touch of mood lighting, props or backdrop imagery of Nat King Cole or Frank Sinatra would have added to the ambience and ‘Cabaret feel’ of the night. In addition, Williams was at times swallowed by the activity on stage, blending into the sea of black suits behind him.

A magical voice, Williams mastered the songs, although did seem to take some time to warm up to his surroundings. His efforts in the first set seemed to be slightly overwhelmed by the sounds of the Orchestra, which at times drowned him out. By the second set William’s confidence grew and his stage presence followed, matching the challenge put forward by the ASO with Wilson. Working the stage and relaxing into his role resulted in a wonderful marriage between music and vocals, to which the audience responded with enthusiastic appreciation.

The night wasn’t without celebration of some of the finest arrangers of the day, most notably Nelson Riddle and Billy May who both forged successful partnerships with Sinatra and Cole that saw the singers’ careers soar.

Come encore, the charm and presence of Williams had won over the room. The respect and appreciation between conductor, vocalist and orchestra was apparent throughout the performance. The good news for those who missed out is that the concert was recorded for future broadcast on ABC Classic FM. Tune in, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.