Cabaret: Campbell's Mmmm, Mmmm Good

PERHAPS THE BEST THING TO BE SAID FOR 24-year-old Australian singer David Campbell, the youngest performer to headline at Rainbow & Stars, is that he almost lives up to the wildly extravagant hype that preceded him.

With good looks, a rich voice and a great stylistic range, Campbell is a mesmerizing performer. Whether singing a Broadway tune like "Not a Day Goes By," a pop standard like "Bridge Over Troubled Water" or the rollicking "Higher and Higher," he sells his songs with high energy and naturalness.

One of the high points of the evening is "Yard Sale," a deeply moving song by gifted singer-songwriter Tom Andersen. This dramatic monologue is about a young man selling all the things that matter to him as death approaches, and it brings out all of Campbell's considerable skills as an actor.

So does "Only Heaven Knows," a number from an Australian musical ("A rare art form, I know"), in which Campbell starred in Sydney.

The night I saw him, Campbell's father, Jimmy Barnes whom he called "the Bruce Springsteen of Australia" was in the audience. An unexpectedly powerful moment was Campbell's tribute to fellow Australian Peter Allen, whose wonderful songs are now drenched with nostalgia and sadness.

Though he gets his show off to a tentative start, Campbell proves to be an astonishing talent.

 

Daily News (New York) - November 01, 1997 by Howard Kissel - Daily News Critic