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Deborah Caulfield on Liberty's Tenth Anniversary Cabaret / 3 September 2012

Johnny Crescendo at the Southbank Centre 1st September 2012

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This show was a startling mix of mildly amusing silliness, overly loud but otherwise quite pleasant singing (sound technicians please note) with occasions of utter brilliance, punctuated by moments (too many) of thumb twiddling dreariness, when absolutely nothing happened and one was forced either to stare longingly at an activity-free stage, or seek alternative entertainment elsewhere.

Talk about talk amongst yourselves. Is it too much to expect gaps between acts to be filled by someone (anyone!) or something other than pulsating elevator music of the grey noise variety?

I so wanted comperes Liz Carr and Tanyalee Davis to have me in stitches. Apart from a well aimed pot shot at Atos, their para-paralympic antics just reminded me of me and my Chailey friends age 13. However, I chuckled when Liz apologised if anyone felt patronised, adding that if we were disabled we'd be used to that.

Did mad poet Liz Bentley have a train to catch, or was it that she forgot to visit the loo before going on stage? If she hadn’t been in such a rush, we could have had at least another ten minutes of her wacky little rhymes, witty throw-away one-liners (thrown away too quickly) and sweetly strange strumming.

Susan Hedges’ rock and roll band was probably excellent, but it was spoilt by atrociously poor acoustics and a badly (as in un) balanced sound.

I can’t believe I’m writing this (at my age) but the earth fairly moved when Johnny Crescendo (aka Alan Holdsworth) came onto the stage. That hat! His voice has become richer and rounder since he went to live in the US. Crescendo’s first number almost had me in tears. Choices and rights are indeed what we should be fighting for. Not, as he told me afterwards, to defend the status quo. He finished his (short) set with Pride. Proud, angry and strong, we all sang. It felt good.

Laurence Clark was amazing and completely uninspiring. This was the first time I’d seen him live and he didn’t disappoint. Smart, funny and erudite, he clearly puts a lot into his performance, making it look dead easy, the sign of a true professional. Aren’t we lucky?

Are we proud?

Keywords: atos,disability pride,johnny crescendo,laurence clark,liz bentley,liz carr,madness and performance,paralympics,susan hedges,tanyalee davis