(Ian von Memerty)
Hugely entertaining evening from a consummate performer. (Review by Caroline Smart)
Ian von Memerty’s latest show, Keyboard Killers, pays tribute to eight of the greatest song-writing piano-stars – “rare individuals whose music and lyrics inspire for decades,” as he describes them. A capacity audience braved last night’s thunderstorm to head for the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre and they weren’t disappointed.
He performs at least 75 of the greatest hits from Irving Berlin, Fats Waller, Cole Porter and Noel Coward to Stevie Wonder, Freddy Mercury, Billy Joel and John Legend. He covers a wide range of moods, styles and rhythms, often changing seamlessly at lightning speed in the eight medleys. As he undertakes this enjoyable marathon, he shares fascinating information on the individual talents of these legendary stars.
There’s no denying this man’s talent which has been endorsed by numerous awards and nominations. He has been in show business for over three decades and while he trained as a classical musician, he has no music degree … “but a very cool suit”. Two suits. in fact, one a very elegant burgundy one in velvet. No music degree doesn’t stop him giving a good rendering of a classical piece by Billy Joel.
Humour there is in bucketfuls – from hilarious adlibs mid-song (especially when a couple walked in late and were seated in the front row) to changed lyrics of numbers like Let’s Do It. He also presents an impromptu song inspired by members of the audience, shows his versatility with accents – Coward’s Mrs Worthington with a Cape coloured accent! - and even impersonates a duck!
Von Memerty is also a highly accomplished dancer and pops up and down from the keyboard to add movement to some numbers. He can also pull on his dramatic abilities and vocal power for songs like Mercury’s Barcelona and Legend’s Glory.
The set comprises three standing pieces representing piano keys. Von Memerty effortlessly swings the piano around so that all sides of the audience get a chance to watch his flying fingers at work. The highly effective lighting design is by David Limbert and at one stage there is a special lighting cue focusing on von Memerty’s hands and the keyboard.
Performing with von Memerty is excellent bass player Andrew Warneke who alternates between a double bass and guitars. According to von Memerty’s notes, the choice of congas, cymbals and a wood block for the percussion input was to add to the versatility of the trio. While extremely well handled by Bronwen Clacherty, the mix didn’t always work for me.
A hugely entertaining evening from a consummate performer, Killer Keyboards runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until Sunday (November 13). However, all performances are sold out. Von Memerty proudly announced that this was the first time he had walked onto the stage in Durban to a run that was already sold out! So, put his return visit in your diaries – he will be back late February/March. Watch out for the advance information and don’t miss it! – Caroline Smart