“Wahays Me-hen Sa-hay.... Only Fu-huls Rush I-hin” sang Derek Junkeer as he ambled around the tables of the Trans Asia Ballroom, a Las Vegas-style spotlight following his every move. Chunk De La Monk was at “En Trans with Derek J”, a show featuring the husky voiced balladeer from Australia, whom my sources tell me is a hot favourite at the Caribbean Gardens Park on weekends. At the table with me was Cockney, La Cousine and the complained One.
The show began with a dance number based on “Copacabana” featuring some dancers, one of whom looked like she had a dead canary on her head.
Superbly surreal stuff. Then we moved on to some rock and roll (“Johnny B. Goode” and “Proud Mary”) from the ever enthusiastic Fahmy Nazick, dressed in Johnny Carsonesque black, who has obviously been watching a lot of Tom Jones and Elvis concert videos - and then we had Sohan join his backing band the X-Periments for some songs.
This was before the fauxdramatic entrance of Noeline but as La Cousine muttered “The only thing giving me goosebumps is the air conditioning”. Noeline then proceeded to show us exactly why she should concentrate full time on singing by blowing the audience away with her renditions of Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me” and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Memories” from “Cats”, which I believe she sang in the stage production some years back. Rock and Roll also turned to Studio 54 with her version of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”. Somebody find this lady some good original music so she can go and show the rest of the world that Sri Lankans can sing more than baila.
Then it was time for one more dance act - this time “New York New York” with dancers in ridiculously large top hats. To put it mildly, this was not a good head gear night.
Then Derek J. finally took to the stage after a couple of false starts, and then proceeded to distribute roses to female members of the audience while singing “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”.
I stared open mouthed in wonderment as he then proceeded to get these chosen ones to stand and display themselves to the entire audience while he ran through some showbiz patter -
Bringing up the two blondes from Melbourne and letting them parrot some lines of Sinhala seemed also particularly tacky. “Oh yippee, white women” murmured Cockney, who by now was playing Rock, Scissors, paper with La cousine.
Junkeer managed to be a jolly good trouper, dressed in white trousers and blue blazer, looking strangely like a school prefect.
He is also a fluent speaker of Rock-and-roll-ese, that strange hybrid patois that is only spoken by singers of a certain generation. For instance
“Thang yuver much, thangyu nowi’d like tado nother onema favourites, it saclazzic and it goes a little sumthinlahk this”; which translates into English as “Thank you very much for your applause.
I would like to do another one of my favourites. It sounds like this.”
He is also quite the esprit de party, having pop quizzes with miniature koalas and copies of his CD as prizes (whoopee) getting audience members to sing a couple of lines from songs, and at one point even getting the F&B Manager of the hotel to sing two entire songs - “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” and “My Way”, both done surprisingly well with a charming accent, like Rene’s from “Allo Allo”. Wouldn’t mind seeing him again..... but is this a concert or the biggest karaoke party ever?
And was Mr. J singing to backing tracks or not, that is the question. If I am wrong, I apologise, I am a young Gen X whippersnapper to whom the whole idea of dinner shows can only be taken with a pinch of irony. To the assembled fans of Engelbert Humperdinck, Elvis et al, Junkeer probably provided an excellent evening’s entertainment.
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