Many thanks to contributor, Angie Paton, for the following review and the accompanying photos...

Gotta Have Heart was an Entertainment Assist production, in conjunction with Crown Casino. All entertainers, musicians, technical support staff, stage people and backstage assistants donated their time. All funds raised go towards assisting those in the Entertainment Industry, who fall on hard times, with education, preventative assistance and/or support.

Twenty-seven arrangements were performed at two Gotta Have Heart concerts by Grand Wazoo. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Strings section also performed with them. In total, that made a 28 piece stage band that was ready to rock, get down and get funky, with a splash of classic show tunes and one opera tune by Anthony Callea. Yes, you know the one.

There's nothing like being reminded what a full show band with Symphonic strings sounds like. The sounds totally add another dimension to arrangements to such classic songs as ‘Thunder In My Heart’’ by Leo Sayer, Ross Wilson's ‘Cool World’’, and ‘Take Me Back’  by Jon Stevens, lead singer of Noiseworks. Leo, Ross and Jon seemed so pumped to be working with such a sensational band and Rhonda Burchmore is in her absolute element with a full show band. The strings added that extra touch of class, to finish off her polished act. She had just completed a successful show run at the Comedy Theatre with ‘Cry Me a River’. The show tells the story of American singer, Julie London.

Jon Stevens paused for a moment to share a recent personal challenge within his life. Gotta Have Heart reminded him of the unexpected events that can occur in such an occupation. He shared that it had been just on two and a half years since he was in hospital having an unexpected double heart bypass operation; a sombre reminder of the important work and support that Entertainment Assist provides.

Mahalia Barnes certainly showed that she can belt out a soulful blues song with the best of them. I found myself thinking, at one point, could this be the woman who might follow in the rather gigantic footsteps of Ms. Renee Geyer, our current Queen of Soul, with yearnings of the blues? Both Mahalia and Anthony Callea continue to be people to watch; both are going places. They are both focused, organised and boy, can they sing! Having recently seen Anthony nailing a couple of tunes with Ms. Tina Arena on her sell-out Australian tour, Tina Arena & the Tina Arena Orchestra, at the opening of the New Hamer Hall, one can see he's aiming big; perhaps bigger than we think.

Ian Stenlake might not be a familiar name to you, but if I mention the Captain in Border Patrol Seacraft, from the recently axed but very successful Australian television series, Sea Patrol, perhaps that might help. Ian shocked me with being able to sing. Clearly, I need to hang out in the theatre more, as he certainly comes across as being theatre trained and well-crafted in the musical area. Yes, I know really nothing of Ian, but he was impressive, as was another actor performing, Mr. Tim Campbell. Tim also seemed to have the moves of a theatre background and/or training. Both Ian and Tim were great openers for the show. And who can resist dancers? All the trimmings were there, in spades, to make Gotta Have Heart a great time out.

As with all shows, there are people billed as headlining, Ross Wilson and Leo Sayer filled those rolls. What can I say? Mr. Ross Wilson remains Mr. Cool, oozes it! I can say the cool is totally unruffled, whether in a BIG band with Symphony Strings, the Peacenicks, Mondo Rock or solo. I'm still working out what it is that makes him so darn cool, besides him easing in to a set, sitting in a groove and staying there so comfortably. Perhaps that is what they call experience.

And Leo Sayer?  Well he is just so darn good! And such a bundle of energy. He is now near the top of my most annoying people to photograph, as he has so much of it! Try to get a shot of him live in concert, unblurred, where he isn’t doing a rock move for dramatic purposes! I dare you. He has so much material to choose from, and is such an experienced showman, it’s hard not to be cliche. He is always well worth a look. For me, ‘Thunder in My Heart’ always remains a favourite, and is WOWWWwwww with a full band.

The glue for the whole show was, of course, Grand Wazoo. Sensational job! This was my first time seeing them live, and it certainly won’t be my last. If they're playing in your neigbourhood, what’s that wonderful Aussie icon with that cowboy hat say? ..... errr do yourself a favour?


by Angie Paton


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