Review: Justin Vivian Bond

Karen Carpenter is the focus of Justin Vivian Bond’s latest cabaret act, with Karen’s awkward vulnerability and quiet passion setting the tone. Bond’s taste in songs is always impeccable, and with the Carpenters’ lovely canon to select from, it’s hardly surprising that “Down on Creation” ends up being a truly gorgeous show. As with everything she does, v approaches these Carpenters songs with the touch of a very careful curator – a curator, that is, who finds what is most explosive in the art they’re presenting, and then promptly detonates it.

One of the best features of all Bond’s shows is v’s acidly funny, stream of consciousness, between-song patter (which has had the downside of making certain shows marathon length) – Justin’s always open to the wildest tangents, here including a rambling dissertation on v’s relationship with bats in v’s country home. Bond’s sense of humor looks at society from a perspective that is simultaneously inside and outside, much like Karen Carpenter herself. Lance Horne strips down Richard Carpenter’s lush orchestration for the four-piece band, exposing how luminous the songs are even without rich production.

As always Bond is hilariously entertaining, wildly imaginative and vividly expressive, and is the perfect artist to do homage to Karen Carpenter. Highly recommended!

For tickets, click here.

To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see

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