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Soursob Bobb and Courtney Robb

Feb 24, 2015

At first glance, the pairing of Soursob Bob (the “bb” is just for the show title) and Courtney Robb might seem a little odd for a Fringe show.  They aren’t in any way similar, and they don’t perform together for that reason.  They do share the immense talent of violinist Emma Woolcock, who plays with both.

The show works because of the differences in style and the fact that both musicians are extremely good at their work.  Neither is the star, nor support; rather, they rotate the order each performance.

Last Sunday afternoon at the Grace Emily Hotel saw Robb lead off with a selection of her heartfelt original songs of life, love, motherhood and frustration.  Robb’s songs are drawn from personal experience and from travelling around Australia for two years (“Took me a while to wash the city from my skin”); a central theme is never being satisfied, no matter how perfect her life might seem.

“Invisible” deals humorously with early loves and her obsession with boys who play guitar.  Her voice is an absolute joy: hypnotic, expressive and emotional, moving with ease from a bare whisper to full projection.  Her guitar and ukulele playing is similarly expressive.

Soursob Bob is another kettle of fish.  His songs and views vary from hilarious to deeply meaningful, often at the same time, and his presentation encompasses singing and spoken word.  One of his songs deals with meeting women in Centrelink queues and another with the dangers of the River Torrens (“Muddy Waters”); there is also a tribute to a well-known politician (“The Dance of the Mincing Poodle”).

One minute Bob is recounting an encounter with an Olympian from the women’s rowing team, the next he is drawing on Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment for inspiration.  He implores God to help him change history by meeting with Kurt Cobain, Hitler and Jesus, but God politely knocks him back.  It’s amazing material presented by a truly Australian classic character in a laid-back, infectious style.

Two excellent shows for the price of one – great value.

Courtney Robb and Soursob Bobb are playing again at Mylor Cotton Memorial Hall, February 28; Grace Emily Hotel, March 1; and Courthouse Cultural Centre Clare Valley, March 6.  

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