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Monday, October 08, 2018

Post Modern Jukebox Return To Wellington - Wellington Opera House 7 October 2018

Back to the Capital for the 4th time, Scott Bradlee's Post Modern Jukebox travelling review returned again to wow us with remodelled pop tunes set into the jazz, swing and musical templates of old.  And wow, did they ever impress!  Music swung (literally) between Radiohead to Taylor Swift and everything in between.  Even one of Bieber's schmaltzy-est numbers was done over as a lush and entirely credible ballad, delivered by newby Mario Rose.  He totally nailed Where Are U Now, making you forget everything and forgot everything else ever mattered.  It really felt like he was singing straight to you, alone.

The night kicked off with a bit of old-fashioned pizazz as the band took to the stage for a vibrant performance from out 'FeM-C' of the night, Ariana Savalas, who did a brilliant version of Sisqo’s 1999 hit Thong Song.  That included some rather raunchy tap dancing that mixed old-time rag and burlesque, courtesy of Arissa Lee.  She also popped back on, dressed in a Josephine Baker-styled dress for more stunning tap-work later on.  Savalas proved to be a provocative ringmaster, knocking out a couple of stormy numbers including a seductive striptease to the tune of Ginuwine's Pony.  In Auckland, I hear, she did this with the help of an unsuspecting audience member.  No such luck tonight.

Back again was the heartbreaker, and longterm term fan fav Von Smith, to blow us away with Cry Me A River (sung at the highest falsetto I've ever heard!).  He was joined by San Francisco Bay Area powerhouse Mario Jose, the 'kid of the group' 17 year old 'movie' starlet Olivia Kuper Harris (who won 2017’s PMJ vocal Search), the sexy and the sultry Brielle Von Hugel

As with all PMJ shows the musicians are just as part of the show as the singers.  Clarinet and sax player Chloe Feoranzo (who's been before, as well).  Sung and gave us a few nerdy jams.  Bassist and MD Adam Kubota was once again the perfect conductor and leader from the back.  My personal highlight (apart from Hadaway's What is Love? done swing style) was their reworking of Radiohead’s classic Creep, done as a true torch song, oozing emotion and self-loathing.  Marlene Dietrich would' loved it! Such an emotive ballad.  Also worth a mention was the very twee Hey Ya and Beyonce’s All The Single Ladies, and not forgetting a glorious cover of Maroon 5’s Sunday Morning.  The show finished in full Broadway power and glitter with Taylor Swift's Shake It Off.  It's not hard to do a better version than the original, as Ryan Adams has proven.   But this one really does take the cake!

Every time I go, I really enjoy myself.  PMJ are an institution that blows the lid of the Capital.  If I had only one tiny criticism, it's that the formula of singers and a tap dance is just getting a little too comfortable.  I want more now and knowing how this cast is recruited and the pool of talent out there I want to see more and more.  PMJ is a brilliant platform for bringing back all these older skills - from the old theatre days.  Please give us more, more, more!!!

Sisqo – Thong Song
Sam Smith – I’m Not the Only One
Katy Perry – Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)
Justin Timberlake – Cry Me A River
Outkast – Hey Ya
Radiohead – No Surprises
Harry Potter Theme – Tap Dance Interlude
Ginuwine – Pony
Skrillex & Diplo – Where Are U Now w/ Justin Bieber
Beyonce – All The Single Ladies
Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
Smash Mouth – Rockstar
Selena Gomez – Same Old Love
Maroon 5 – Sunday Morning
Bruce Springsteen – Dancing in the dark
Tears For Fears – Mad World
Radiohead – Creep
[Happy Birthday Interlude]
Meghan Trainor – All About The Bass
Haddaway – What Is Love (Baby Don’t Hurt Me)
Taylor Swift – Shake It Off

See Poster at the bottom of this page for a concert near you or go to &

Thanks to Nicole Thomas at NicNak Media 

Photos by Tim Gruar

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