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LIVE REVIEW: WILLIAM SHATNER: SHATNER’S WORLD – Perth, 8 Oct, 2018

| 9 October 2018 | Reply

LIVE REVIEW: WILLIAM SHATNER: SHATNER’S WORLD – Perth, 8 Oct, 2018
Perth Concert Hall, Perth, Western Australia
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Good natured Kiwi acoustic classical guitarist duo Pablo Vasquez opened the evening with a suitably quirky short set of material whose interpretation brought to mind a less Latino flavoured Rodrigo y Gabriella, in that their source material has been re-arranged cleverly to suit their particular skills. Finishing with a quirky take on the Star Trek theme song was a masterstroke.

Apologies, but there are spoilers following.

Life’s been a journey for actor William Shatner – a journey of awe and wonder and above all, one that acknowledges the importance of saying “YES” to opportunities, no matter how bizarre or out of our comfort zone they are.

This exploration isn’t stand-up per se – it’s comedy, Jim, but not as we know it. It’s one man – now 87 years old, impressively – pacing around a sparse stage talking about his life, and what a life it has been.

Shatner is a seasoned raconteur, a storyteller and entertainer who knows how to keep his audience gripped and, when the moment is right, in throes of laughter. The first half of the show, especially, was hilarious as he reminisced about college life, hitchhiking across America, becoming a theatre actor and more.

Interspersed with short video clips and photos from his career on the big screen, a theme starts to emerge: Shatner’s World has evolved as he has grasped at every opportunity which has come his way. Trials and hardships have been endured and are to be learned from. As he says in one clip, accepting an honorary degree from his former university, “don’t be afraid of making an ass of yourself – I do it all the time, and look what I got!”

Shatner’s scatological trawl through his back pages is often hilarious, always self-deprecating, though never imbued with false modesty. He knows we’re here to see him, he knows what he’s achieved, that he’s lived a life less ordinary. Crucially, he happily takes the mickey out of himself along the way.

The tone changes halfway through the show as he tells a story about a champion racehorse he owned. Sultan’s Great Day was “the most beautiful creature [he] has ever seen,” he says. The horse is put out to stud and suffers horribly being cooped up instead of running every day. Shatner’s tale of the animal’s self-harming brings tears to many eyes, and it takes a while for the show’s mood to lighten again. Even though we realise the point to this tale – that we must learn compassion, recognise (preferable sooner than he did) when things aren’t right, and set those we love free if we are doing them more harm than good – it is a tragic tale from a (hopefully) different time.

Star Trek is referenced surprisingly little, but a story about coming to grips with his own legacy as Captain Kirk – with the help of another Star Fleet Captain, Patrick Stewart – is touching and brings us back from the brink of sadness after the story of Sultan’s Great Day.

Shatner ponders death following his portrayal of the death of Kirk in the film Star Trek: Generations – his own, that of his father – and that he can still find genuine humour in this is testament to the man’s humanity and humility.

A Boston Legal clip featuring Shatner and James Spader evokes a cheer so loud that we wonder if there are more fans of this show than of Star Trek present? Either way, all laugh and cheer as he describes passing “the biggest kidney stone God ever made” and selling it for charity!

Finally, Shatner talks about his musical career – long a source of amusement to musical purists. But the man has the last laugh with some more self-deprecating humour at his own expense: far from the pompous artiste who might have thought his mostly-spoken attempts at ‘singing’ were high art, he comes across as a man who has been offered incredible opportunities – and what do we do when that happens? We say “YES”! Songs such as Has Been, recorded with Ben Folds, provide more laughs, and another called I’m Real, a country song with US megastar Brad Paisley delivered with all of Shatner’s unique cadence and theatrical gravitas, provide the perfect balance of hilarity and pathos to end this hugely entertaining show on.

Risk, as Shatner explains, is part of life – an essential part. How do we learn new things, evolve and become better without it? Bill Shatner’s life is proof that if we don’t take ourselves too seriously, grab as many opportunities that come our way as we can, our lives will take us to places we could never have imagined. Welcome to Shatner’s World.

Shane

Category: Live Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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