LIVE REVIEW: BARRY MORGAN @ NOTES NEWTOWN (22.06.2012)

Barry Morgan is the man. He puts the “organ” into Morgan and the “boss” into bossa nova. He was originally discovered on Spicks & Specks and is the alter ego of performer, Stephen Teakle. At his album launch at Newtown’s Notes he pulled out all the “stops” (sorry, it’s an organ gag) by performing cuts from The Touch Of You, a solid debut that is already proving to be this year’s most “coveted” organ-based album.

This gig was easily the weirdest show we’d all seen in years. It wasn’t strictly comedy nor was it purely a concert. Perhaps it was closest to a panto (complete with audience participation) because part of the idea was to sell his beloved organ to the patrons, which he achieved both literally and figuratively. They enjoyed most every part of his organ-work, particularly the demonstrations that were flavoured with just the right amount of kitsch and cheese. Heck, even the merch was a goofy combination of t-shirts, badges, postcards and stickers showing every inch of this man’s love (and by that I mean his amazing smile).

John Deeks (AKA the voiceover from Wheel Of Fortune) introduced Morgan as the magician and musician of tuition, as the latter bounded on stage in his trademark safari suit. The Aurora Classic 1981 organ was front and centre stage and two Leslie speakers flanked the edges with one propping up a bottle of Campari. Morgan admitted he packs a “lot of wood” and his sheer enthusiasm proved a great opening to the dance-like number that kicked off the proceedings. It was full of silliness and up-down variation as a Barry Cam camera captured every moment of his crystal fingers at work.

One thing about Morgan is that he is a ham and he clearly loves to exaggerate, like a balloon pig if you will. His over-the-top facial expressions are reminiscent of Dave Grohl’s acting. Yet when he talks he has a relatively unassuming Aussie accent (I was expecting a more Eurotrash one, but never mind). The character is also as flamboyant as Bob Downe, while his gags have more double entendres then the Are You Being Served? box set.

Morgan kept the energy quite high with the call and response (I say “Morgan” you say “Organ!”) He also blew kisses during “The Touch Of You”. But it wasn’t all pink frosting because “Sands Upon My Hands” was one shining example of Morgan’s proficiency while actually playing. It sounded like he had a mini-orchestra at his fingertips as the song boasted the sounds of an Egyptian snake charmer, a melodramatic carnival and a tango played on the oboe, and all of this added extra spice to the earlier sugar.

The madcap musical magician continued through some rolling grooves and punchy backbeats but it was his little demonstrations that got perhaps the best audience response. In a space of minutes the organ was transformed into a Steinway Grand for a classical piece; a harpsichord for the Adam’s Family theme; those “Dueling banjos” from Deliverance; and ultimately, the theme from Skippy.

The show was brought home with some audience participation as Morgan took two girls and a guy through “Let’s Go, Let’s Swing (The One Finger Method)”. It’s a recipe that proved even beginners could create some of their own great music by barely lifting a finger. The set was then capped off with a cover of “You Are My Sunshine,” the sale of a keyboard (with complimentary steak knives) and “DJ Barry” where he would don some 3D glasses and bust a move.

The show had been anarchic. At times it was a little awkward if a joke or some banter fell flat but this only added to the character and the strange fun of it all. Instead of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll we had been served a mix of innuendo, Campari and bossa nova. And while this doesn’t have the same ring to it as the former, there was no need to worry because Morgan had more than enough rings on his fingers to compensate and dazzle. He’d certainly achieved the latter because let’s face it; we’d all delighted in the pleasure that we received from Barry’s organ.

Originally published on 23 June 2012 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/sydney/live-review-barry-morgan-notes-newtown-22-06-2012

Visit The Au Review’s homepage at: http://www.theaureview.com/

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