Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano are an adorable husband and duo, a pair of very talented musicians who have flown from New York to perform Helluva Town, their Ipod shuffle soundtrack to their home.
Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zedel is technically the perfect setting for this kind of cabaret show, though perhaps the stiff upperlip of the British audience could do with some loosening by way of alcohol and a later timeslot.
Barbara’s enthusiasm is laudable as she opens with “Put on Your Sunday Clothes/Broadway”; neatly establishing rapport with a crowd that politely laughs and applauds at the appropriate times. The songs are New York classics: cabaret and musical numbers with the odd pop hit. Most were new to me; perhaps this was age, or maybe just the niche. Still, the songs are enjoyable and the interaction between Eric and Barbara is heartwarming, especially during duets like “Strollin’”.
However, there is something to be said for recognizing a familiar tune, necessary to establish that audience connection. This didn’t happen until Joni Mitchell’s “Marcie”, which was half-way through the set list, but after a slow start (and a second G&T) I was finger tapping and chair swaying with the best.
By mid show, the London audience had nicely warmed to Fasano’s style and Comstock’s agile fingers. A rather British reaction to quite an American duo, but we all met somewhere in the middle and the result was beautiful. “Old Friends” was so touching it nearly reduced me to tears, and my companion laughed about “The Hamptons” and regaled me with an anecdote about a boy she dated there once. That’s what the evening is about: enjoying the music with a New York mind-set and context. A city not unlike London, buzzing, thriving, and exciting: a place you love to hate and hate to love.
If that is your cup of tea, go and see this golden couple. I urge you to leave your British stoicism at the door and allow yourself to get a little American – nod, smile, clap!
Oh, and if at the end of the night you end up around the table with Eric and Barbara’s great support: the bass player Simon Woolf, a regular at Ronnie’s Scott – get him an Irish whisky. Not getting him one is the only regret of the night!