It is about time someone paid tribute to Warren Zevon. Henry Wagons and Lachlan Bryan’s ‘Zevon – Accidentally Like A Martyr’ is a great tribute to the man whose songs were maybe too clever for his own good.
In death Zevon is remembered as the creative larrikin with a wicked and warped sense of humour. In life he was (for a good part of his fame) an arsehole. I know first-hand, I interviewed him on the 1992 Australian tour and he was … well, an arrogant prick pretty much nails it.
But the songs …
You cannot fault the songs of Warren Zevon. Each one felt like he must have had to give birth to a kid with a head the size of a watermelon to get that amount of pain into a lyric (poor poor pitiful me/Oh these boys won’t let me be/Lord have mercy on me). Some of them were just outright bizarre (and he rubbed the pot roast all over his chest/Excitable boy, they all said), some novelty (ah-hooo, werewolves of London), then some just so beautiful you wonder where the first lot came from (If I leave you it doesn’t mean I love you any less/Keep me in your heart for a while).
Needless to say Warren Zevon was as complex a person as they come. Henry Wagons alludes to this in the show but ‘Zevon – Accidentally Like A Martyr’ is more about the music than the man.
At the end of the show you understand that Zevon was fucked up. (Yeah, yeah, my shit’s fucked up / It has to happen to the best of us). Warren lived the cliché ‘sex and drugs and rock and roll’ to excess and in the end paid the price.
‘Zevon – Accidentally Like A Martyr’ is not a history lesson. In fact, pretty much the only thing I can confirm is true are the songs. Henry deliberately gets a bit rubbery with the facts between the songs but that is part of the charm. Zevon was off his face for a good chunk of his career that even if some of these things did happen he would have no way of remembering.
What the show does showcase is a remarkable songwriter. Warren Zevon is up there with Dylan and Springsteen as a great American poet but his eccentricity has him more aligned with Nilsson.
Henry focuses on the character while music director Lachlan Bryan holds the band in place, taking centerstage in the second half for the more delicate ‘Carmelita’.
The Zevon quiz in the second half adds a fun element to the show as well. It is an audience participation segment but in true Zevon style stays in the fucked-up theme and isn’t to be taken too seriously at the end.
Again, its all about the songs. ‘Poor Poor Pitiful Me’, ‘Carmelita’, ‘Excitable Boy’, Werewolves of London’, ‘Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner’. ‘Lawyers, Guns and Money’, ‘Johnny Strikes Up The Band’, ‘A Certain Girl’, ‘I Was in The House When The House Burned Down’, ‘My Shit’s Fucked Up’ are just some what you are treated to over the two hour show.
Go for the songs, stay for the banter and relive ‘the one who got away’ Warren Zevon. Henry Wagons and Lachlan Bryan do him proud.
Friday 18 October 7.30pm
Saturday 19 October 2pm
Saturday 19 October 7.30pm