Saturday 28 August 2010

Camille O'Sullivan - Chameleon - review

It would be unfair to expect Camille to live up to the first encounter on seeing her a second time. Her new show, Chameleon, carries on where the previous show left off, and indeed much of the material is the same. Much of the magic is lost on seeing her again. The ad libbed banter, the asides - all are carefully scripted and dropped in with consummate professionalism. But, as with stand-up comics, that's not a reason to criticise. She merely has her act highly polished, and sticks to it.

Nevertheless, in a show of less than an hour and a half, it was a shame to see so much duplicated material, even if it was some of the best songs from the previous time. Tom Waits's All the world is green, Brel's Amsterdam (equally extraordinary performance second time round), Nick Cave's The ship song and Dylan's Don't think twice, it's alright took up a substantial proportion of the show. It would be nice to see the band showcased a little more, as well, and Camille's range of songwriters is limited (all the more irritating given that she asked for repertoire suggestions on her Facebook page a few months back, then slipped into her usual Waits-Cave-Brel-Bowie hitlist).

But to show some irritation at seeing a show without many changes is churlish, as the fact of the matter is that Camille is simply a massive star. She has it all: performing ability, charisma, presence...and a stupendous voice. It was a special moment for me to hear her take on the music of Leonard Cohen, as the two singers are two of the greatest live performances I've ever seen; Tom Waits's God's away on businesswas another highlight. It's a shame that she has outgrown more suitable venues, but sitting in the sixth row, the sparks were exploding in all directions.

Verdict: Not the same seeing her second time round, but damn! this girl can perform.

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