For two concurrent weekends, Adelaide/ Tarntanya has hosted artists performing their only Australian show. This weekend, The Regal Theatre saw the incomparable Deni Hines continue the trend.
Flying in from her hometown Bangkok, Hines promised to “expect the unexpected and be pleasantly surprised” with this show. She wasn’t wrong. Across two fifty-minute sets, we were treated to seventeen songs. Some were written by Hines, others not. But all were spectacular.
From the moment she entered the Theatre through the stalls singing the first song, we knew we were in for a treat. Then as she launched into Bill Withers Ain’t No Sunshine, which Hines and the Rockmelons had a hit with in 1991, the memories of decades passed weren unlocked for many as we were transported back to our youth.
It was a small but dedicated crowd. Many travelled from interstate for this performance which Hines was acutely aware and appreciative of. As she sang the title track of her 1996 debut album Imagination, she graciously accepted being fanned down by a drag queen in the front row. Because “chocolate melts,” she explained.
This whimsical behaviour and candidness were experienced all night. After singing I’m Not in Love, Hines shared how it was James Packer’s favourite song, whom she briefly dated back in the day. We heard the heartbreaking backstory to Feel, a song about her father and were promptly told to not be sad because she wasn’t. She made us question the lyrics to P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) by Michael Jackson while explaining her version was a massive hit in Japan. And we discovered her true feelings about Delta Goodrem as praise was poured on Tania Doko of Bachelor Girl fame before we all sang along to Buses and Trains.
Beyond the humour, there was the talent. What a voice! At fifty-two, Hines’ voice is still as good as it was in the 90s. Although, if you ask her, she’ll disagree. Her homage to Aretha Franklin, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, transitioned into Respect and back into Bridge Over Troubled Waters. It was breathtaking. As was set one closer, Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher.
After a short break, Hines returned with a song about her husband, Love You in This Life. Look, she did humorously butcher it initially, but she got there in the end. Another Rockmelons song followed, It’s Not Over, then the iconic It’s Alright. This saw everyone up and dancing in the aisles, with Hines joining us happily and graciously posing for photos and videos as she sang.
Exhale (Shoop Shoop) was a calming moment before Rock Steady and If I Were Your Woman blew the roof off the art deco style theatre. “This is fun,” proclaimed Hines. It was a lot of fun!
It goes without saying That Word (L.O.V.E.) was a crowd favourite. It fittingly closed the show (other than the extra encore song that followed) on a high.
Deni Hines is a national treasure and an icon of Australian music. Her vivaciousness and sheer musical talent created an electric night of entertainment. The rest of Australia should be envious of Adelaide/ Tarntanya because you missed out on something special.
Live Review By Anita Kertes