I love Frisky & Mannish. I first saw them five years ago at Fringe and their delightful and fruity pop song repertoire, sassy attitude and their propensity to ‘tit about with pop songs’ made me embrace them from the get go. They involve the audience they dazzle with rapid fire delivery and hilarious take on pop classics is simply magnificent. I’ve seen them do medley of songs by Madonna that was staggering, a ‘stalker’ medley and a particular fave was them doing a Florence & The Machine style version of a Peter Andre hit.

Therefore they are the perfect hosts for the late night Backstage Club in the Space Theatre. They get to sing some songs, do some gags, play with the crowd and introduce other guests from The Cabaret Festival line-up, so it’s a different line-up each night. They vibe up the audience with a selection of call and response classics like Living on a Prayer and 500 Miles, which we are asked (demanded, whose counting) to join in with. Our first act tonight is the mind boggling Hula Hoop artist Anna Lom who raises the roof with people whooping and hollering for more. Next up is New Zealands Maori Modern, who from the guide I thought seemed like a Kiwi Human Nature. Boy Howdy was I incorrect. Yes they are a close harmony quartet, but damn funny. Beautiful voices, incredible harmonies. They did Float On a smooth R&B track from 1977, originally by The Floaters and I had forgotten how much I loved this song. I love the smooth groove and the spoken word ‘Aquarius, and my name is Ralph’. At the time there was a lot of these type of songs ‘Me & Mrs Jones’ etc.  They do a smashing mash up over a bunch of songs including Sam Cooke’s Cupid, Amy Winehouse’s Valerie, Tavares’ Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel and George McRae’s Rock The Boat. I am going to do my best to get to their show. Impressive.

Frisky and Mannish slay the room with their incredible Gender Inclusivity Song. An absolute belter that is leaving nobody behind. Seriously it is worth going to see them just to hear this one song. After a drink and wee break (where the piped-in house music was way to loud for people to chat) we are back. F&M perform a Bee Gees version of Rihanna’s Rude Bou (fab) and then they introduce Mark Holden. The one time Idol judge and carnation welding teen idol is doing a show called Holden Family Circus and he arrives wearing a ringmaster coat. He explains there is a bit in his show were he talks about his fight with cancer and how when he was going in for chemo the last thing he did was scream ‘DIE M”£$%%&& DIE’ and proceeds to sing an ode to radiation therapy with that as a chorus. It certainly took the room by surprise. The portions of the audience in an older age bracket whooped at his song called Get Your Meds Right. He preceded Shine (a massive hit he wrote for Vanessa Amorossi) with an emotional story from earlier in the night. He had appeared in the Cab fest gala in the main theatre a room he had not been in since he played his one and only gig as a major pop star back in 1978. He explained that while singing Shine he had looked up to the balcony and seen his grandmother. It was where she had been watching that show forty years ago. Except she has been dead for many years. Clearly shaken by the experience he soldiered through it’s inclusion tonight. It was a rare and raw break from script.

Adelaide’s own German legend Hans owns any stage. Actually, who am I kidding – he owns EVERY STAGE! Wearing a dazzling sequinned jumpsuit and trademark hat, he was on stage one minute singing My Favourite Things and the next he is out in the audience dancing on a table singing a mash-up of Kirsty MacColl’s In These Shoes and J-Lo’s Let’s Get Loud.

Outgoing Cabaret festival Artistic Director Ali McGregor arrives in a massive leopard print jacket and thrills the room with Helen Ready’s I Am Woman and Beyonce’s Run The World, before doing a version of Creep which contained notes so high only canines twelve kilometres away could hear. She exits to a standing ovation.

By now it is half midnight and time to rap things up with friky and Mannish returning for a killer medley of farewell songs. Unchained Melody, You’re Gonna Love Me, Go Now, So Long Farewell. Fan-bloody-tastic!

Backstage Club is on each weekend of the Festival. Frisky and Mannish do the first weekend, next weekend it’s Libby O’Donovan and the final weekend it’s the amazing Sven Ratzke on at 10.30pm at The Space until after midnight – scurry down and get yourself sorted.

Adelaide Cabaret Review by Ian Bell