Adelaide Cabaret Festival Review: Mahalia Barnes & The Soul Mates

FIFTY+SA Arts Reviewer, Dave Bradley, shares his thoughts on Mahalia Barnes & The Soul Mates for Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Mahalia Barnes’ first Adelaide Cabaret performance in 15 years (!) was, according to her right at the start, essentially made up as she and the three-piece Soul Mates went along, with a selection of their favourites and, later, a few shouted-out audience requests. And this spontaneous structure worked well, as it allowed her soulful voice free reign to bring the house down – or, at least, the Banquet Room.

Beginning with In Love We’ll Grow, the gang then shifted to Ain’t Nobody Else, a song written by Adelaidean pianist Clayton Doley, which allowed Mahalia’s husband Ben a cool solo on the acoustic guitar. The personal edge continued with Little Light, a sweet tune written by them for their daughter Ruby, before Barnes shifted to a pretty smoking version of Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire, and a lovely, fangirl-ish memory of supporting The Boss on tour in the States.

The audience then really wanted to hear her tear into Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Proud Mary, and although she was reluctant because it was on the intro tape before the band took to the stage, they eventually did a rip-roaring rendition of it anyway. But she resisted calls to perform a Cold Chisel classic (like Flame Trees), or one of her Dad’s offerings because, “I don’t want to f*** it up!” And fair enough too.

And please note: towards the end of the slightly-more-than-an-hour, Mahalia said that her shows to come at this Cabaret Festival are likely to be completely different from this one, with a whole new bunch of songs. So, therefore, ahem, maybe you should disregard everything you just read.

And just enjoy it!

Image credit: Kyham Ross


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