Carla Lippis Review @ Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2018

Carla Lippis
Travel and culture writer, based in Adelaide.

When Carla Lippis takes the stage, she needs no introduction.

Clad in a slinky stretch fabric dress that fits her “like a sock” and with sparkling glitter lipstick, she looks every bit the star of the show. Then she takes the microphone and channels her inner Grace Slick for a booming version of 'White Rabbit' and it's easy to see why.

Throughout Cast A Dark Shadow, Lippis shows incredible versatility, moving from taught, muscly soul to a breathy coo that combines with Geoff Crowther's bent guitar notes and Victoria Falconer's diaphanous synths to give hints of Julee Cruise. But it's when she really lets herself go that she shows what she's capable of, and her voice is an awesomely powerful instrument.

“If you don't recognise the song, it's probably because I wrote it,” she says. The show is an even mix of originals and covers, but some of those originals are so bent out of shape that they're all but impossible to recognise. As she prowls through the crowd singing a louche version of L7's 'Fast And Frightening', she tells us that scary is the new sexy and with her wild eyes, laser-cut fringe and fierce delivery, it's hard to argue.

Nirvana also gets a look in, as does Henry Rollins but perhaps the most surprising moment is when she segues from Roy Orbison into a cover of Suicide's 'Dream Baby Dream' as the pulsing drum machine and synths take over and the band – who are a seriously tight unit – allow themselves to let loose a bit.

That Carla's originals hold their ground amid these covers is a testament to her songwriting skills and though storytelling is not a major element of the show, her irreverent attitude means that the mood is anything but dark and there are plenty of laughs throughout the evening.

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