Singing in the West

David Hobson and Teddy Tahu Rhodes in concert 

Now this makes a nice change – a concert that’s touring and has its second stop in Perth, rather than its last, which means that I can write a review and you can read it before the show has come and gone. 

This is round two for Hobson and Rhodes, who did a similar highly successful tour last year, and two men less alike could not be found. Hobson is all twinkles and roguishness and blarney in abundance; Rhodes is stolid and phlegmatic, but with a shy smile of real sweetness. Both, however, exercise a strong pull factor for women of a certain age: Hobson verges on the Liberace school, while all Rhodes has to do is take off his shirt. 

For those of you who don’t get out much, David Hobson is a cheerful and talkative Australian singer and composer – his singing voice light, sweet and rather like cream sherry. He also went on Dancing With the Stars in 2007, where his dancing was compared to a frog in a blender. Teddy Tahu Rhodes is a New Zealand baritone, is 6’ 5” tall and spends quite a lot of time in the gym, which means that every time he appears in a role on stage, the production team make sure he is wearing as little as possible (I saw the better part of him in his debut as Scarpia in Tosca this year, and I’m not complaining.) But it is his voice which is the real magic: an apparently effortless, rich, dark, potent brew like fermented molasses. 

And this chalk and cheese pairing – accompanied by the very gifted and patient Sharolyn Kimmorley on piano – are also very good for an evening’s entertainment. The first half of the program was solid classics – a duet from La Boheme, ‘E lucevan le stelle’ from Tosca, and the serenade scene from The Barber of Seville, complete with Hobson on guitar. But they also sang pieces in the classical repertoire which were special to each of them, but less well known. For example, Rhodes shyly explained that ten years earlier he had been panned for a very brief part in a Wagner production, and then proceeded to knock everyone sideways with an emotionally shattering ‘Song to the Evening Star’ from Tannhauser, just to show that he actually can sing Wagner and is probably ready to do so back on stage (doubtless semi-clad). 

And yes, they did sing that duet from The Pearl Fishers, but the build-up had been too much for me, and I expected more than I got. I am used to hearing ‘Au fond du temple saint’ being sung as a bromance; these two were rather too manly-men for me, but it’s still beautiful and I’m sure you’ll like it. 

The second half was a hoot. All pretensions of culture were abandoned and the two got stuck into the show-tunes, Australian and Celtic folk medleys – and oh, I hate medleys, but these two actually made it work – and a truly odd performance of Cole Porter’s Well Did You Evah? which struck me as the sort of thing that is probably better done drunk at parties than on stage (true confession: it’s also hard for me to get past the Iggy Pop version). Rhodes dances like Herman Munster, so much so that Hobson teased him on stage, but he took it in good part, even though I would think twice about teasing someone who could pull my head off. 

But we got there in the end, and we all had a huge laugh and got ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ and ‘Amazing Grace’ as encores. The house was full, even with the Qantas strikes and local CHOGM restrictions on travel, and judging by the tumultuous applause and shrieking, we all agreed that we’d gotten our money’s worth. 

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