Presented by Adelaide Festival
Reviewed 19 June 2016
You may not be familiar with the work of lyricist, performer, producer and music director, Lance Horne, but trust me when I tell you this is one hell of a talented guy. The Emmy Award winning performer has worked with some of the biggest names including Alan Cumming, Rufus Wainwright, Pink Martini, Liza Minnelli, and Kylie Minogue, not to mention song-writing for Disney. His presence at the Adelaide Cabaret festival this year added some amazing New York style, bedazzled Broadway flair.
Opening in the ‘Middle of a really good haircut’ (yes, that was the name of the song), Horne set the tone for a fun, frivolous, yet also movingly written show. This American heartbreaker was reminiscent of one of the Glee kids all grown up in shiny silver and black jeans, biker boots and beaded tux jacket; he oozed the same upbeat energy and love of music and singing that made Glee so popular. From the outset, he pointed out that all his songs were new material and that listening to new songs is a different process to hearing songs you know because you judge new stuff against a bank of memory material. He requested we keep this in mind during his show, and it was an illuminating message.
Despite the unfamiliarity of the material, it was pretty gosh-darn good. Catchy beats, beautiful melodies, strong, sometimes confronting messages were juxtaposed with the absolutely ridiculous including a song about asparagus and a jingle for Trojan condoms. Horne also talked to the audience quite a bit, taking a heart-on-sleeve approach, which made him both a great entertainer and gave a real glimpse into the mind of what can only really be described as a genius composer. Perhaps the most impressive vignette of the night was one about the producers of US Soap show, One Life to Live, calling in a panic and requesting him to write them a song about two teenagers falling in love — in just 45 minutes! He dropped everything, wrote the song that he called Chemistry, filled it with puns and dedicated it to his high school chemistry teacher. It went on to win the Emmy for best original song and is now owned by Disney.
Slight criticisms include the, at times, OTT cheese in Mr Horne’s banter, and his true talent is his composition and piano playing, not his voice. Mr Horne is a great singer, just not an outstanding one. This was made clearer when he brought special guests on stage to perform. Local performer, Michael Griffiths, who also works extensively in the Cabaret overseas, was a last-minute ring-in, who wowed the audience with his vocals and natural stage presence.
Overall, though, this was such a fun night. The time flew and I could have easily spent much longer listening to Lance Horne. The sad news is his season for the Cabaret Festival is now over, the good news is he confirmed he’ll be back in Adelaide with Margaret Cho this September. If you want something with exceptional New York authenticity, tongue-in-cheek humour, and some memorable music, keep an eye out for the return of Lance Horne.
Reviewed by Samantha Bond
Rating (out of 5): 4.5
One night only – Season ended