Sydney Festival Live Review: iOTA: Young, Hard and Solo - Sydney Opera Playhouse (18.01.12)

The hit of last year's Sydney Festival, Smoke and Mirrors, was a wonderful production helmed by Sydney talent iOTA. Bouncing off the success of La Clique in previous years, as well as iOTA's growing popularity thanks to his turn in sell out seasons of Hedwig and the Angry Itch and Rocky Horror, it became one of the most talked about event in years.

In his latest production, iOTA: Young, Hard and Solo, the Sydney based musician and performer has proven his ongoing popularity with a short, sold out run at Sydney Opera House's Playhouse as part of Sydney Feestival. Much more bare bones than the theatrics of Smoke and Mirrors, iOTA proved you need little more than a band... and a gimp... to create one of the most entertaining shows the Sydney Festival will see in 2012. Well, I suppose you need an amazing talent like iOTA to helm the thing... but you get my drift.

After some introduction banter that discussed the fact the word "c*nt" would not be used in the performance, iOTA emerged to a rapturous applause in the arms of an overweight gimp, launching straight into the Do Re Mi hit "Man Overboard". The set that followed was a mix of his favourite live tracks, performed with the precision, style, skill and cheek that iOTA has become well known for.

Some of this 'cheek' included covers of songs like Peaches' "Fuck The Pain Away", a hilarious (albeit slightly disturbing) performance showcasing the erotic love between Batman and Robin, a bong hit (blown into a balloon, of course), bubbles for the crowd and the always wonderful Brendan Maclean dressed as a rabbit.

Highlights included his own track "Origin of Love", "Along on a Saturday Night", his wonderful cover of "Dream a Little Dream of Me" (the Mama Cass version, performed while enjoying a ham sandwich), "After the Goldrush" by Neil Young and "Sweet Transvestite" from Rocky Horror, which was phenomenal. His own track "Come Back for Me", followed by "Hear the Wind Blow" - sung a capella - from Stir Crazy, closed out the night. Phenomenal.

It was nothing like Smoke and Mirrors, and for that I have no doubt a few would have left disappointed. But the crux of the show was in its name. This was iOTA as raw as he can be: with a supporting band, a gimp, and Brendan Maclean. We got to see sides of his many talents and got taken along for a great time in the process. You'll just wish he had performed for more than the hour (and a bit) he is allocated!

If you're heading along to one of the remaining shows, leave your sensibility at the door and have a grand time - iOTA will definitely deliver one for you, as he certainly did for me. Sold Out performances continue to tomorrow.