Andrew O'Keefe "Shouts" Johnny O'Keefe Review @ Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2018

  • Written by  John Lanigan-O'Keeffe
  • Tuesday, 19 June 2018 17:23
Andrew O'Keefe Andrew O'Keefe

Rock stars' biographies often fascinate more than the nine minutes of music by which they are often remembered. The drama of Johnny O'Keefe's life matches the quality and quantity of his hits.


His nephew Andrew O'Keefe worked with strong material, an enthralling monologue, personal perspective and great songs. To say he did it justice understates and underrates his achievement.  Slightly lower in pitch and fuller of voice than his uncle, Andrew O'Keefe sang magnificently, switching through a kaleidoscope of timbres always appropriate to the music, the story within the song,  and the feeling in every word and phrase. His musicianship and diction could not be faulted. He emulated much of his uncle's movements but he did not leave the ground as I remember Johnny did.

He gave us glimpses into Johnny's life and a fuller understanding of Johnny, the man than we glean from Wiki or the media. Here was the Johnny who matched with the accounts of a music critic Johnny would  pick up and take to work, kind and considerate. Andrew also told of his uncle's contradictions.  As he relayed Johnny's self-created marital problems, his car crash, and his early death, tears rolled down my cheeks.

After belting effortlessly through several arduous songs in a row, punctuated by a few gentle numbers, pieces from the '50s which, despite rock accompaniments, still had bel canto roots, with a line Andrew O'Keefe span effortlessly, he cracked ever so slightly in a gentle number. Before resuming his monologue he apologised to the audience, something I have never heard from an artist in over 60 years of attending singers' performances.  

Andrew told us that he hadn't wanted to do such a show because he didn't want to be accused of cashing in on his uncle's fame, but when told that in ten years Johnny's audience would be dead, he decided to take it on.  

Andrew O'Keefe, I am so glad you did. You deserved the standing ovation and the sold out season.  

With so much material the advertised one hour ten minutes ran for an hour and a half.  We're not complaining. We loved every second.

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