Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Dunstan Playhouse
Until 24 Jun 2017

Review by Jamie Wright

For most performers, losing your singing partner to a medical emergency three days out from your first performance would mean cancelling your show - but most performers aren't Vika Bull who, when Debra Byrne fell ill, was able to call on her sister and long-time musical collaborator Linda to step in at astonishingly short notice.

And it's exactly a small thing she was being asked to do – to perform the songs of the legendary Carole King, the singer/songwriter whose numbers include some of the biggest and most beloved of the last five decades.

The inevitable nerves resulting from such last-minutes changes were obvious at the beginning, but once they got stuck into the music, that faded away – to the point where, apart from one or two minor missteps and some slightly awkward between-song patter, the only way you'd even know there'd been a substitution was the presence of a music stand on stage.

The pair – backed a superb quintet (piano, bass, drums, guitar, saxophones/percussion) – work their way through stunning renditions of highlights from King's extensive repertoire. It's a testament to the skills and talent of all involved to have gone through so many of King's songs, which span numerous genres – and they made it look easy.

Standouts include "I Feel the Earth Move", "You've Got a Friend", "I'm Into Something Good" and an absolutely epic version of "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" that would have brought the walls of the Dunstan Playhouse down if it had been any better. Oh, and the medley of hits in the encore is so much fun when you don't know what's coming that I'll leave that a surprise for those lucky enough to see the show.

While it's a blow to miss an opportunity to see the legendary Debra Byrne on stage in Adelaide, she can rest easy knowing that the Bull sisters have made sure the audience are being treated to a stunning musical experience and a fitting tribute to one of the true greats.