Dusty Limits @ The Spiegeltent
Dorian Black: still better than you
For his encore, Dusty Limits announced he would be performing a song by his favourite singer, Diamanda Galas. An uncharacteristically chirpy number about a psychopathic woman, Limits adorns the chorus with an abrupt yelp. While this may have sounded like a typical vaudeville comic trick, the reference to Galas is a sharp reminder that while he looks like cabaret, Dusty Limits is working on another level.
With an audience made up of cabaret aristocracy, Limits has more than justified his billing as the dark prince. Despite straying into ocassional moments of safe kitsch, Limits is at his best when he unfurls his dark, soulful intelligence. Determinedly godless, he sings, humorously, of destruction, warfare, a universe trapped by puritanical demiurges into a ceaseless cycle of masculine striving. His camp moments are more than just cute bait for an audience: they prevent his sermon from becoming strident, holding the serious message with gentle irony.
The crowd-pleasing cover of a Portishead number, the interludes on agnosticism, the cheeky self-harmer singalong and its illustrative ballet are all part of Limit's vision: a celebration of decadence not as a defeated response to the brutal capitalist world, but the last bastion of resistance.
It's a stunning hour: taut, vicious and hilarious. The louche allure and catty asides may hide his intentions, but wipe away the greasepaint and Dusty Limits is cabaret's own Jesuit of Damnation.