Review | Jessie Gordon and Mark Turner are Best Friends (Again)

Best Friends (Again) | The Ellington | Until 25 Jan | ★ ★ ★ ★  

Feeling bored, tired or lonely? Of course you are, it’s 2020. But don’t fret your socials, the real news is there’s sweet wholesome jazz at The Ellington to liven your soul and take you back to when eye contact was a thing.

After a successful 2019 Fringe season and European tour, local legends Jessie Gordon and Mark Turner have returned with Best Friends (Again), an ode-in-jazz to the rewards and vagaries of terminal friendship.

The premise of the show is 30 songs from the duo’s repertoire. Audience members are invited to yell out a number or random request, which Gordon and Turner perform from their set list or simply shoot from the hip.

The pair’s flair for spontaneity means anything could happen.

“I thought you were doing that to irritate me,” Gordon joked when Turner improv’d an intro that sounded dangerously close to a blacklisted Dolly Parton number. Only a few decades of camaraderie can produce that kind of mirth.

In a world where adult friendship is hard to come by and if it does there’s a good chance your friend is a bot, there’s something heartening about watching two lifelong buddies make music and lightly torment one another IRL (“in real life”).

“Anyone who’s married will understand this,” Gordon winked to the crowd.

The mix of clever originals, old favourites, hilarious medleys and dirty jazz tunes transported us through years of lives well-lived (and by no means over). It was like catching up with an old friend about all the breakups, travel mishaps and moments of reckless abandon you’ve shared.

Turner’s exuberant finger-picking and Gordon’s rich vocals turned each song into a fun factory. There was a whole lotta toe-tapping, ad-libbing and laughing.

The magic was that the audience wasn’t just looking on, we were welcomed into the fold like long-lost siblings. At one point Gordon and Turner conducted us in the chorus of a 60s classic. There’s nothing like singing with strangers to reconnect you with your fellow human.

These besties have shaped one another both as musicians and as people, like any long relationship does. The synergy of creative minds is always beautiful, but its evolution over many years results in a type of chemistry that’s somehow curative. I went into the show weary, I came out refreshed – and you will too.

Jessie “Hardest Working Woman at Fringe” Gordon is performing in more than 50 Fringe shows this season, including Queer Jazz and Jessie Gordon is Out of the Loop. You can also catch Mark Turner’s guitar prowess and smooth vocals at multiple Fringe shows this year.

See Best Friends (Again) until 25th of January.

Carmen Reilly studied professional writing and cultural studies at Curtin University. She tries hard to be fair and considered in her reviews, but sometimes she’s just a try-hard.

Star Rating Guide

Tags: , , , ,