Presented by Stewart D’Arrietta and Band
Reviewed 1st March 2018
Stewart D’Arrietta is the jobbing musician’s jobbing musican. Composer, performer, pianist, musical director, he is particularly known for his interpretations of the works of Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen.
Belly of a Drunken Piano, as the title suggests, consists predominantly, although not exclusively, of Waits songs.
Opening with Way Down in the Hole, he segued smoothly into his own composition, Little Bit of Satan in us All. He went on to present an eclectic and yet oddly homogeneous, selection of songs, intertwined with his very personable chats.
Waits numbers included spoken-word piece Step Right Up, the heart-wrenching Kentucky Avenue, and (naturally!) The Piano Has Been Drinking. D’Arreitta’s voice is similar to Waits’s deep rasp, but he is also able to sweeten it up when the mood requires. He does a nice line in Ian Dury as well, delighting the audience with gutsy renditions of Wake Up and Make Love to Me, and I Wanna be Straight. Other highlights included a smooth version of Leave Your Hat On, a Bukowski poem, Bluebird, which D’Arrietta has set to music, and a couple more of his own compositions, all of which embrace the same up-tempo darkness as much of Waits’s work.
Not up on stage alone, D’Arreitta was joined by three superb musicians including Adelaide-born Lyndon Gray on double bass. This was a band performance, and although the star was front and centre, everyone gave good instrument.
The German Club is pushing itself more and more as a performance venue, billing itself as “Adelaide Fringe’s premium rock venue”. Thems fighting words. Don’t misunderstand me: I like this venue very much. But they really need to do something about the plastic glasses. A $9 glass of wine in a plastic cup? I don’t think so. That’s if the wine you want hasn’t run out (my companion had to go to her third choice because her first two had run out…at 7 pm…); and finally, the cheap, nasty, excruciatingly uncomfortable chairs in the Showroom. Nothing “premium” about them.
This was a terrific, value-for-money show, presented with tightness, energy and passion.
Belly of a Drunken Piano is playing until the end of the Fringe, so plenty of opportunities to catch this fabulous show.
Rating out of 5: 5
Venue: The German Club
Season: 27th February- 18th March
Duration: 90 mins