JANE GOULD – MUSIC EDITOR
Whatever you think a cabaret is, don’t go to Yana Alana expecting to see that. My first impression of the Lithuanian Club was that it smelled like my grandma’s house. In general, the venue defied all that makes cabaret what it is – the high ceiling and multi level seating took away from the intimacy, and there was not a drop of whisky too be seen (but actually, where was the bar?). But did Yana Alana pretend not to notice? Not a chance – “They really need to do something with these curtains”, she protested about the mustard drapes framing the stage limply.
The whole show itself showed a cheeky disregard for all the norms of cabaret. If you expected Yana Alana to strut around stage in Dita Von Teese lingerie, think again. Despite costumes featuring heavily, Yana Alana Covered was a show about the woman herself – the flouncy outfits acted as clever props, with Yana Alana well and truly owning them, rather than the other way around.
The show opened with a powerful rendition of Shirley Bassey’s ‘History Repeating’, complete with a projector screen showing political and pop culture footage. Cue jokes about the Liberal Party, and the whole room was enamoured. Equal parts razor sharp wit and self-deprecation flowed effortlessly throughout the performance, and by the end, I think everyone saw a little bit of Yana Alana in themselves.
The show consisted entirely of covers, however Yana Alana was the first to make jokes about selling out. But a joke is about as far as it gets, as her rich voice and cheeky stage antics were enough to transform them entirely into her own. Her backing band Tha Paranas, made up of multi-instrumentalists Bec Matthews and Louise Goh could have put on a pretty damn good show on their own, with stage banter almost (but not quite) matching that of the woman herself. The three women were great foils for each other, and it was a joy to watch.
Covers included songs made famous by Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey, Scout Niblet and Gnarls Barkley, all of which were accompanied by a different outfit and another sassy side to Yana Alana. The audience was in raptures at her rendition of the 1930s ‘If It Don’t Fit, Don’t Force It’, as she attempted to squeeze herself into cheap gym gear. Smattered throughout the show were the zaniest quotes and lyrics from some of history’s biggest pop stars. I wasn’t quite sure what the point was, but it provided some pretty hilarious filler between songs. My appreciation shot through the (slightly moldy) roof when she completely shut down two of today’s most popular girl power anthems. Trust me, she knows what she’s talking about (and has been around way longer than Katy Perry).
I don’t care who you are; but I promise you will love this show. Take your take your dad, take your girlfriend, hell, take your grandma. You don’t want to miss it.