Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Banquet Room
Until 15 Jun 2018

Review by Anthony Vawser

In tackling the repertoire of Linda Ronstadt – one of American pop/rock music’s most iconic voices – Australia’s own Jane Clifton has provided the Cab Fest with a pleasant way for Linda’s fans to collectively bond over her still-impressive catalogue of classic renditions. With any luck, it may introduce some of the younger generation to a legacy noted for its confident eclecticism and overall accomplishment.

Despite Ronstadt having ventured across a wide variety of genres and styles during her vocal career (now cut short due to the effects of Parkinson’s disease), Clifton and her capable band confine themselves mostly to a rock-and-roll vibe throughout the hour. The renditions and arrangements tend largely toward an earthy-yet-sophisticated country vibe, feeling at times like a relaxed barn-dance crossed with an exceptionally professional karaoke evening.

The stage patter is beautifully exuberant, combining Ronstadt biographical details and personal anecdotes/opinions, brimming with gentle humour and occasional poignancy. Thirteen songs in all are covered (including encores); highlights include a commendably vigorous “When Will I Be Loved”, plus an impressive “Heart Like a Wheel”. Occasional lighting changes are skilfully executed for maximum effect.

Jane Clifton can be commended for creating and sustaining such a warm atmosphere with this show. She doesn’t attempt to copy Linda Ronstadt vocally; they are each distinct from each other, yet they are clearly in sync, and “Rock Venus” should leave any audience member as a firm fan of both women.