Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen never fail to impress with their dark theatrical style and brilliant musicianship. They played two shows on Sunday to launch their new album Dead Men Tell a Thousand Tales at the Toff in Town, a great venue that, while being aesthetically pleasing, consistently seems to fall down when it comes to its audio/visual rig.
Mikelangelo, Rufino, Little Ivan, Guido Libido and the Great Moldavio brought out new tracks and older favourites, whilst using their signature cabaret style, beating a traditional night out where bands churn out one song after another. The group are sure to turn the night into a theatrical evening of stories and banter creating an intimate experience no matter what the venue size. Highlights include the charming fiddler Rufino’s part song, part sorry tale The Struggle to be Human and the multi-part tableau of Ten Long Years in the Saddle (Waiting for Death to Come), the song set in a lonely saloon in the Old West, with a final showdown between Mikelangelo and the surreal-voiced Guido Libido.
The beauty of the group is the showmanship they all display, never breaking out of their very distinct characters, even when members of the audience disrupt their flow. And Mikelangelo revels in being the front man, constantly breaking the audience/performer divide without embarrassing or annoying the punters. Let’s face it, we all respect a well-pomaded man who is willing to get his kit off, especially if it means parading around the audience in a pair of Edwardian era swimming trunks. Mikelagelo does this with such grace you’re disappointed he didn’t come out like that sooner.
The group’s show does rely on heavily theatrical and intricate lighting tableaus, which seemed to overwhelm the venue’s lighting department. As well as this the sound was at times a bit patchy and buzzy. Both of these are not the fault of the Gentlemen, but rather of the venue, as the tech system has been sub-par every time I’ve been to a gig there. The Toff in Town needs to work on this if they are to continue to book high quality artists who are attracted to this increasingly popular venue.
Mikelangelo & the Black Sea Gentlemen are finishing up their Australian tour to launch Dead Men Tell a Thousand Tales before heading off to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.