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DIRECTOR: Alistair Izobell
CAST: Biance le Grange and back-up band
VENUE: Baxter Concert Hall
RATING: 2 stars (out of 5)
Bianca le Grange is a talented singer and, as it turns out, actress too, as evidenced by her recent Naledi award. Only in her early 30s, she doesn’t have a lifetime of stories to tell yet, so revealing the person behind the stage persona isn’t exactly shocking or particularly revelatory as the title suggests.
Sure, she has the power voice, which was not quite there on Friday night because she was tired, but just how enigmatic is she?
Le Grange tells us more about herself in segues between cover songs, touching on an abusive relationship and even hinting at some Idols shenanigans. But she shies away from actually dishing any dirt, so don’t hold your breath.
Some of the sequences are smoother than others, possibly as later additions to the show, “because Alistair (Izobell) told me to reveal more”, she says.
Camillo Lombard’s musical arrangements are pleasant and her back-up band is energetic and note-perfect even when the Concert Hall swallows up the sound. This is a thankless venue when it is half-empty, and if you don’t know the lyrics to her songs then words get lost in a mush.
Her Broadway medley was to be expected, but the Afrikaans sokkiejol was not. Of course Le Grange did try to break into that Afrikaner market, but the silence says it was a bizarre choice.
If you know all the words to her first radio hit Been Around the World, this show could work for you. If you were the guy who got up to dance when she sang I Will Survive, this is definitely for you.
But you are not going to find anything wildly original here, nor too much theatricality. It’s Le Grange doing karaoke, with a more-than-decent band and two strong back-up singers plus one who was rather desultory (she may be able to hit the notes, but was clearly wishing to be elsewhere).
Now before you think me a mean old hack for dubbing this a weak show when I call the singer talented, consider this: applause was desultory at best, even when people did gamely clap along when instructed, and everyone was tickled by her über-fan in the front who got up to dance on stage.
But the way she left the stage as the band was still playing that last song, quickly followed by the back-up singers, no one even waiting to take a bow… that was telling.
The tiny ripple of clapping that quickly ended was perfunctory, more polite than enthusiastic.
The loyal Baxter audience expects – and usually gets – more than this.