Presented for one night only at Metro Arts as part of Queensland Cabaret Festival 2022, String: an odd evening with Tyrone and Lesley saw the titular double bass and ukulele duo perform songs from their upcoming seventh album, String, for the first time, as well as a selection of songs from their extensive back catalogue.
Tyrone and Lesley (the stage personae of David Megarrity and Samuel Vincent) also strung together their songs with a series of slides, taken by a mysterious photographer in Brisbane and surrounds in the 1950s. As Tyrone explained between songs, the colourful images depicted a “day trip” across four years, from floral close-ups to landscape vistas and shots from a dog show. The image resolution and muted colours conjured a sense of nostalgia that paired well with the music, and the transitions between the slides, which were projected as a backdrop and changed throughout the show, were so subtle that I didn’t notice them at first.
Tyrone (Megarrity) and Lesley (Vincent) have been a songwriting and performance duo for more than 20 years, and this was evident in their easy and comfortable onstage rapport, filled with quirky comedy and commentary, as well as their significant musical skill. Megarrity carried the verbal narrative of the show and played the ukulele, while Vincent plucked and bowed the double bass, hummed, harmonised, and played the kazoo.
A collection of items – a suitcase, a teddy bear, paper, poetry, a cup of tea – were arranged behind Tyrone and Lesley, with many of the objects representing some element of a song in the set list. Small steps of choreography and subtle physical comedy added an extra layer of polish and humour to the performance.
Short, sweet, and deceptively simple, Tyrone and Lesley’s music and stage presence have a wholesome earnestness to them that is rare and refreshing. Love songs, fart jokes, and teddy bear puns were woven together in a way that was remarkably seamless. The unusual juxtaposition in size and sound of the double bass and ukulele also created an interesting effect, both musically and visually.
With evocative, poetic lyrics and clever wordplay, Tyrone and Lesley’s music ranged from comical to melancholy, but always struck a note of whimsy and wonder. A warm and genuine kind of optimism shone throughout the evening, and the work was full of contrasts: music that was nostalgic and old fashioned, yet also catchy and modern; big feelings and questions alongside reminders that, despite it all, You May as Well Smile. All of these contrasts sat comfortably against one another to create a multifaceted show and the evening closed with a performance of the first song Tyrone and Lesley performed together, followed by an encore.
Holding true to its promise of “light music for dark times”, String: an odd evening with Tyrone and Lesley was a delightful evening of songs and slides that left me feeling lighter.