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Review: Tapestry - The Songs of Carole King

Cabaret Festival

No-one could come away from this show untouched. Vika and Linda Bull, with the support of a spot-on quintet lead by pianist Paolo Cecchinelli, give their audience a delightful tour of Carole King’s critically acclaimed 1971 Tapestry album, with a little extra thrown in besides.

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What might easily have been an unremarkable performance relying on the familiarity of this popular classic work was, instead, by turns joyful and contemplative, and always entertaining.

The Bull sisters work hard, expertly highlighted King’s talents and, incidentally, their own. A couple of minor lyric wobbles from Linda were completely forgivable considering she had stepped in just two days earlier for Debra Byrne when the latter was hospitalised.

If you know the album, you will understand what well-known songs were to come. Vika reminisced about seeing a teenaged Byrne singing the regretful “It’s Too Late” on television’s Young Talent Time show before she gave it her own soulful treatment. A sweet guitar interlude was lovely embellishment.

In Linda’s hands, “Home Again” was plaintive and moving. “So Far Away” was equally gripping. Carefully textured, it moved precisely between soaring moments and quieter passages. The emotional centre of these two songs was conveyed without a hint of sugar.

A tempo change came in jubilant fashion with “Where You Lead”, a danceable love song of almost gospel commitment. Vika, in particular, was especially vivacious in her part here.

The album’s strengths were also made evident with lovely versions of “You’ve Got a Friend”, “I Feel the Earth Move”, “It’s Too Late” and Vika’s roaring take on “A Natural Woman”, written for Aretha Franklin.

One of the best moments was a heart-wrenching “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” graced once more with delicious harmonies and some wistful guitar. Another change of pace came with a powerhouse rendition of “Hard Rock Café” (1977), emphasising its Latin base.

While, the sisters can offer charming blood harmonies, they are equally happy taking turns with the key vocal. They seemed to inhabit these songs, whether reflective or upbeat, and left the audience wanting more after an encore three-tune medley. Some people doubtless went straight out to book for tonight’s show. My advice is simply to be there with them.

The final performance of Tapestry is tonight (Saturday) at the Dunstan Playhouse.

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