The Headland, January 16


Paul Capsis. All photos: Bianca De Marchi.

With Paul Capsis and iOTA singing, and a subtitle like “A song cycle of desire and ecstasy, murder and mayhem”, it seemed worth risking an outdoor show in the fickle La Nina summer. Then you learn that the 14 songs constituting Rapture are from a forthcoming musical conceived by four people including director Michael Kantor, and, on the basis of this concert, that musical certainly deserves a life.

iOTA. Photos: Bianca De Marchi.

One might surmise that the underlying story is bedded in lust, unhealthy obsession and destruction, and presumably it was because Capsis and iOTA were playing characters that they tended to alternate songs rather than sing together. Therein lay the letdown. One strives to avoid preconceptions, but it was hard not to be tantalised by the prospect of these two larger-than-life voices blending into one. Given that this was an elaborate concert rather than the actual musical, surely we could have had more of the two of them, because when we did, as on the title song (originally by Blondie) or Sacrifice (written for the show by Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier) they duly warped and electrified the crisp evening air.

Not that it was exactly pedestrian when they were singing their solo songs. These two don’t do pedestrian. They confront, challenge, ham it up, and, above all, blow the lid off a high-impact song.

iOTA and Paul Capsis. Photos: Bianca De Marchi.

The pieces that weren’t pinched for the show (including Ray Davies’ gorgeous I Go to Sleep, sung by iOTA) were often penned by Megan Washington, with input from musical director Jethro Woodward. Many tended to have their drama and their sometimes disturbing lyrics compounded with sudden dynamic shifts and extravagant arrangements.

The two stars were joined by Isaac Hayward (guitar, keyboards) and a string quartet lead by Veronique Serret, with programmed bass and drums. The theatricality was emphasised by striking videos (Nick Roux), lighting (Paul Jackson) and costumes (Anna Cordingley), but a cracking band and the two singers being unleashed in tandem should have been the default option for a concert.