Review: Robbie Ellis

Reviewer Elizabeth Bouman
Reviewer Elizabeth Bouman
''Hello and welcome to my symphony,'' began Robbie Ellis at St Paul's At One entertainment yesterday.

St Paul's at One
Robbie Ellis
Wednesday, October 15

He then trotted out, or rather more correctly galloped out, about a dozen of his original ''silly songs'', brilliantly self-accompanied on piano.

Ellis is a former Mozart Fellow at the University of Otago, and although yesterday's contribution to the world of written music was a far cry from that of Mozart, they have in common a naughty sense of humour and a wicked ability to make fun of people, including public figures.

Silly songs they may be, but highly entertaining, and Ellis was in overdrive as he told the tales and presented the patter. His lyrics are crammed with line after line of descriptive idiocy, craftily rhyming and sung within carefully chosen voice register.

Local subject matter included Northeast Valley, the Water of Leith, the campus (Landlord Paradise - Student Paradise and Knox Church (Presbyterian Paradise). A song in bossa nova style about a plumber who attached lollipop suckers to taps related the various flavours which came from turning on a tap. Another which also had the audience chuckling and brought Ellis's pianistic skills to the fore was Racist Grandma Blues.

Kim Dotcom and parliamentary figures featured, and to complete the trio of sex, religion and politics there was cancan music and an absurd commentary on a Paris nightclub with a dancing centipede, where the final rhyming word just happened to be ''bestiality''.

Sheepdog Plainchant was unaccompanied, echoing appropriately through the venue and a ''lecture on musicality'' cleverly demonstrated how great composers (and Neil Finn) used identical melodic motifs in some of their best known works.

The lyrics of final song Dry July were sung with heavy French accent, and led into a thank-you listing to everyone, including St Paul's Cathedral, in very fast and fluent French.

Altogether an amazing string of nonsensical ditties, presented by one very talented entertainer.

- Reviewed by Elizabeth Bouman

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