Cabaret couple livin’ in seventies

Melissa Langton and Mark Jones. (Supplied)

By Luke Voogt

Married life is “one big cabaret” for Melissa Langton and Mark Jones, who will live stream “the best and the worst of the ’70s” across Geelong next Friday.

“The ’70s has a lot of stupid stuff that we can take the p*** out of, but lots of really rich, beautiful music too,” Jones told the Independent.

The pianist and songstress will perform rearranged versions of tracks such as AC/DC’s Big Balls and Skyhooks Living in the ’70s at Geelong Arts Centre.

“It’s Big Balls but not as you know it – it’s much sillier,” Jones said.

“Mark’s changed the words to some songs, so it’s a bit comic,” his wife explained.

The cabaret couple have been performing together since they met about 30 years ago, when Jones played piano for his future wife during a concert.

“We’re very, very different,” Langton said.

“He’s quite reserved but darkly funny, which I like.

“Mark’s quite dry and I’m whatever the opposite of dry is.

“He’s very witty and intelligent, whereas I’m the person who thinks of a comment two days later and thinks, ‘damn, I wish I had said that’.”

They soon became good friends but it took almost a decade for them to start dating in 1998.

In 2001, the couple won a Sydney cabaret contest together, earning a trip to the New York Cabaret Convention.

They went ahead with the trip in October, despite the September 11 attacks six weeks earlier.

Jones proposed to Langton in Café Lalo, made famous by its cameo in 1998 romantic comedy You’ve Got Mail.

The couple “got hitched” three days later by a Mexican celebrant with an accent they struggled to understand, Langton said.

“In honour of her we went out and had Mexican for our wedding night dinner.”

“Neither of us were really interested in the big wedding thing,” Jones added.

“Both of us perform all the time, so we’re always getting dressed up for other people – who wants to do all that? Let’s make it our own!”

But they still had a big party at Jones’ parents’ home in Ocean Grove after returning and surprising their families with the news.

After almost two decades, the couple still perform together.

“We do some funny married couple stuff on stage,” Langton said.

“Because he’s a singer as well, he doesn’t just play what’s on the page – he knows where I’m going and he can sort of follow me around musically.”

The couple planned to “beef up” the piano for their throat-scorching ’70s tribute.

“We could get people watching who are five-years-old or 105-years-old,” Langton said.

“Our plan is to make it family-friendly but it’s a little edgier than our normal morning shows.”

Jones, who recently played piano for his wife’s friend Amanda Harrison in another live-streamed gig, described hearing “crickets” in an empty venue after a big crescendo as “a bit weird”.

Normally he and Langton liked to interact with an audience, he said.

“The good thing about this show is that we will have each other.”

After a “busy” 2019 touring and playing gigs, the couple had enjoyed a break during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones said.

“We didn’t go stir crazy. But we are getting to the point where we’re thinking it’s time to get out of the house now.

“Whoever thought going to the supermarket would be the highlight of our day?”

For information: www.geelongartscentre.org.au/

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