I should start this review by admitting that after seeing Barry Morgan perform on the ABC’s music quiz-show “Spicks and Specks”, this show was high on my list of must-see performances for this year’s Festival.
And I pretty much got what I expected.
The “Magician of Tuition” and “Musician with a Mission” played to a capacity crowd of ‘shoppers’ Friday night in Launceston’s Town Hall Reception Room, which had been theatrically transformed into a somewhat sleazy jazz lounge, thanks to some clever staging and lighting.
There, in front of the black velveteen curtains and spotlight, Morgan, with his trademark safari-suit, man-wave, 1970s moustache and cheesy over-the-shoulder smile demonstrated the versatility and joy of his Hammond Elegante organ - which was also for sale at a “never repeated price”.
And there is the hook of his comedic performance. The flamboyant, big-smiling (yet slightly creepy) organ salesman with the turtle-neck and tacky jewellery mixes up a skilled musical performance of original, honky tonk, classical and theme music with his pitch to sell you his organ – and much of that includes some rather tired innuendo. (If one of the shoppers takes home his organ tonight, Morgan will throw in a year’s membership to the Organ Lovers League of Australia, an organisation that gets together each year to play with their own and each other‘s organs.)
As a character, Barry Morgan is funny and loveable in the way Mark Trevorrow’s Bob Downe or TV’s Kath and Kim are, and he certainly kept the family crowd entertained throughout the hour performance. There was also some delightful engagement with the audience, as Morgan’s discerning salesman eye selected shoppers who might be persuaded to take his organ – and ubiquitous steak knives - home for the special price of $9,999. However for me, disappointingly, Morgan’s one-pony trick-and-shtick humour wore a little thin after awhile.
If you’re going to Barry Morgan you know what you’re going to get. Is that a bad thing? Not if you consider the arts are as much about entertainment as anything else. While I like to be surprised by a performance and taken somewhere I can’t find or imagine myself ever going, some people just like to know what they’re getting for their money. For those people, Barry Morgan’s World of Organs is definitely a deal never to be repeated.