One of the quotes on Carla Lippis website describes her as “Iggy Pop and Nancy Sinatra making out during a drunken cabaret at The Black Lodge.”. Perhaps because March has been particularly ‘mad’ this year, or week three Fringe Fatigue, that it wasn’t until a couple of songs in that I put together that Carla Lippis was Baby Carla! In 2015 Baby Carla turned up in my feed and immediately went onto high rotation. Any song off that EP would be at home on a Tarantino soundtrack. Sixties twang guitars, beatnik beats and the remarkable voice of Carla Lippis. Evoking the great, ballsy girl singers from the 1960’s particularly the very particular tone of the French female singers like Francoise Hardy and France Gall. Baby Carla has been compared to Amy Winehouse and Duffy, but that record reminded be more of April March, who’s Chick Habit (a cover of Gall’s Laisse tomber les Filles from 1964) can be heard at the end of Tarantino’s Death Proof.

An Adelaide native, Lippis has spent the past few years touring the world and honing her craft and tonight in a packed Fortuna, she is a world class act rapturously welcomed back by the home town crowd. Entering the venue from the back of the room she interrupts the first lines of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit to cheekily say ‘I’m back here darlings’. Singing her way through the audience, the song is a perfect fit for Lippis brassy and powerful voice. Immediately I am struck by her astounding band, great musicians making a super cool, atmospheric, dirty soul groove. Lippis is a larger than life character with a voice and talent to match. She is playful with the audience and her band telling her guitar player not to cross a line onto her part of the stage. In a red suit and high heels she is a striking presence. Several songs from that Baby Carla CD are included tonight. The infectious twist of Think Twice with its surf guitars and Lippis voice soaring over the top is fantastic. Son Of A Gun was the first thing I heard of Baby Carla and it’s is a highlight tonight with the band yelling top ’BANG BANG’ and the catchy chorus causing a lot of ‘seat dancing’ around me.

Other highlights include Mean and Greedy, The Hard Way and a spectacular reworking of the all-girl grunge outfit L7’s Fast & Frightening, which Lippis has a lot of fun with the line ‘All the straight girls want to be lesbians’. A delicate, stripped back and astounding version of Nancy Sinatra’s Bang Bang sent goose bumps through the spines of everyone present. The final song was a simply incredible reading of Liar by The Rollins Band. Flipping the implications from a male protagonist to a female one, in the context of this style of music was pretty close to genius. This remarkable performer is a true star, Adelaide should be very proud of her. Sadly this particular show was a one off this Fringe, but Carla Lippis is also appearing at the late night (11pm) Midnight Marauders down at RCC, which I’m hoping to catch shortly. There are also a couple of performances of Baby Carla’s Bad Girl Rumble at the The Pocket at the Sterling Fringe this coming weekend (March 9,10 and 11).

Five Stars

Fringe Review by Ian Bell