Keira Daley V’s The 90’s – Keira Daley in a gangsta paradise. (Sydney Fringe Festival Cabaret Review)

I seem to have my timing completely off when it comes to attending Keira Daley’s wonderful cabaret shows – feeling like the nerd she waxes so lyrically about, I managed to catch the absolute final performance of LadyNerd a couple of weeks back, and then when I saw her great follow up show, Keira Daley versus the 90’s, I was only able to make the final performance at this years Sydney Fringe. However, Daley’s shows seem to have a way of snowballing, so despite the end of the Fringe season, I’m hoping this hugely enjoyable show will be around for a while, giving lots of folk the chance to catch it.

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Daley invites us at the start of Keira Daley v’s the 90’s to move back in time, via the classic tunes above, and the very 90’s dress styles of her and her three-piece band.  We know we’ve arrived, she tells us, when our mobile phones get a kilo heavier, our humour gets more observational and if you listen carefully, you can hear the internet, as the room fills with the static sounds of dial-up. She bookends her very clever wit with a story about being a nerd at school, only Daria and her portable CD player there to help, as she reminds the audiences of subtle changes in the last twenty years such as VHS ousting BETA and cats around the world enjoying anonymity.  Her talent for lively storytelling and witty manipulation of well-known lyrics gives the nostalgic backward gaze an injection of reality as well as the unrivaled joy “remember-when-a-thon’s” can’t help but provoke.

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Besides having a great voice, a fine mind and a clever way with words, Daley is just a complete joy to be in the room with. She has a great connection with her audience building the sort of intimacy that relaxes rather than pierces, sort of like a killing-me-softly-moment without the fear of your letters having been read out loud. She gives us her version of classic 90’s performers like Frente and Jamiroquai peppered with observations like “If you take Eddy Vedder up half an octave you get Cher,” keeping us plugged into her amplified vibe. As I was watching her, I felt everything from joy, recognition, happiness to moments of envy, when I realised she is up there doing what we’ve all been secretly screaming into our hair brushes for years. It’s her accessibility, her availability, and her raw honesty about those shameful secret mirror moments we all have, that are the pulse of the connection to her audience in her shows.

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She covers much of what you expect and much of what you don’t remember all the while leaving out the obvious, so the show is fresh and alive and keeps you thinking (remembering, cringing, laughing) all the way through.  As with LadyNerd she is accompanied by the “distractingly handsome” (why did I blush when she said that?) Mark Chamberlain as MD on keys, adding Joey Pangilinan on drums and Eduardo Delos Reyes on bass to round out the whole nineties experience.

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Given the enormous success of LadyNerd and the punch-line-packed fun of Keira Daley V’s the 90’s, I can only assume you will have ample opportunity to catch this show. Make sure you do if the chance comes your way.

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