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A Where2sing.com exclusive Karaoke Gig Review

Berkeley Hotel karaoke venue review on www.where2sing.com

Berkeley Hotel karaoke

TV shows like Popstars and Australian Idol have recently glamourised karaoke, and we often seem to judge karaoke venues in terms of the crowd that they can attract...

. . the money they can make, and the professionalism of the experience.
But there is another face to karaoke, one that runs in the suburban pub purely for the entertainment of the locals, and with no pretence at making money or showcasing great talent.

Karaoke nights in these pubs can be infrequent, rarely publicised, and often avoided by karaoke enthusiasts; however, they play an important role in giving the accidental visitor his or her initiation in karaoke, and I headed into the back streets of Sydney to experience such a venue.

The Berkeley Hotel is on the outskirts of the Redfern area, but tucked into a side street off a busy road, just your average corner pub. The bars have not been designed as much as having developed over years, the small front bar now being augmented by a larger drinking area with plenty of tables and seating, and with a couple of spacious rooms at the back of the building serving as an excellent restaurant. There's also a narrow side bar populated by gaming machines and from whence occasional patrons will stumble with suitably dazed expressions.

It was Saturday night, and the first in the month, and I had an idea that I would find Wally and his remarkable wife in residence - and indeed I did as I stepped into the front bar. Saturday nights obviously start early in suburban pubs, and already there seemed to be a few rather unsteady on their feet. But there were plenty of places to sit, and I found a nice position in the middle of the room close enough to Wally to benefit from his commentary as the night unfolded.

I believe that this karaoke used to be run by one of Sydney's larger operators, but it is now run by Extreme Karaoke, an outfit which seems to be characterised by large cowboy hats and mic-hogging hosts. Nevertheless, the sound is excellent, and the songlist looks extensive. I decided on an Elton John ballad as a gentle first song, threaded my way between the chairs, and put my song slip down on the young host's discs as she didn't seem keen on acknowledging me.

But not long afterwards, another gentleman came along, asked me if I were David, and told me that they didn't actually have that song. In further explanation, he told me that they had never had that song, and I'm unclear as to why the length of its absence might have been of interest to me. However, it was easy to choose another one - Lionel Ritchie's 'Hello' .

Wally sang, and so did his wife. She has a strong voice, always performs well, always receives great applause, and shares with me the enjoyment of singing those songs which we have sung often, and love. Wally suffers from far too much enthusiasm and energy to ever sing the same song twice, and thus regularly provides a performance to behold. Obscure songs of the sixties again see the light of day with Wally, and this time he chose Gimme Some Lovin', and found that it was pitched extremely high. Wally obviously views the two-thirds point through the song as a kind of 'made it' point, for it is normally about this time that he jumps into the air repeatedly - much to the delight of his audience.

With such a small number of singers we might have expected our turns to come around often, but, and as I mentioned before, this karaoke company believes in sharing in the fun. The regular mic-hogging host was reportedly in Dee Why, so it fell to a young lady to present the show, and she dutifully 'hogged' . . .(full story on where2sing.com)

Read the rest of this exclusive Karaoke Gig Review, and find whether this karaoke gig is still running on Where2sing.com . . .

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