Written for PORTSMOUTH NEWS.
At a piano, dark cabaret darling Joe Black alternates between an effeminate gossip and sudden growls, looking back on the start of the collapse of nightlife culture in Berlin during the early 1930s – “never bring a nihilist to a dinner party”. As if the sombre atmosphere isn’t uneasy enough, things get stranger when Black stops playing the piano, only to sarcastically argue with the wall beside him.
Believe it or not, that oddball alternation of misery and humour, is exactly what Black is aiming for – and it is hilariously charming.
Black’s 2016 stage show is billed as a tribute to the controversial German cabaret club Eldorado, which closed in 1933, and one has to wonder what on earth happened in there. Whatever that was, it’s probably not quite what Black offers tonight. He might have dressed as a woman under the name of Kitty Von Wigglefinger, though he might not have kept his fake fingernails on with clothes pegs. He also wouldn’t have hosted a quiz show, referred to as “Buzzfeed-style”, and he definitely wouldn’t have ended with a tragic rendition of Marlene Dietrich’s ‘Ruins Of Berlin’, leading into a Marilyn Manson track.
Either way, that is precisely what he delivers, and however ridiculous, it’s brilliantly entertaining.