Michael Feinstein (singer & piano)
The Band: Toby Cruse (musical director & piano), Mitch Dalton (guitar), Dave Olney (bass), Kevin Campbell (drums), Mark Armstrong (trumpet) & Bob Sydor (reeds)
Reviewed by: Michael Darvell
Reviewed: 5 April, 2011
Venue: Leicester Square Theatre, London
Feinstein opens with an unusual and rare choice, ‘You’re gonna hear from me’, with music by André Previn and lyrics by his ex-wife Dory, a song that featured in the film “Inside Daisy Clover”, with Natalie Wood. Things then become more familiar with ‘How about you?’ and some interesting chat about Cole Porter, the only major songwriter from the 1920s to 1940s era who was not Jewish. Having no success early on with his songwriting career, Porter was advised to make his songs sound more Jewish and once he had done that he never looked back. To demonstrate the point, Michael then sings ‘So in love’ from “Kiss me, Kate”, not that it sounds too Jewish.
Feinstein’s great friend Rosemary Clooney (he calls her his second mother) gave him a Christmas present of a “revenge” medley with ‘Goody goody’, I Cried for you’ and ‘Who’s sorry now?’, three classics that fit together perfectly. The Anthony Newley-Leslie Bricusse number ‘What kind of fool am I?’ gets the full treatment that is more over the top than even Newley himself. This seems to be characteristic of Feinstein’s performances now, in that he seems determined to sell a song by giving it his all. At times I wish he would quieten down and just sing without too many fancy arrangements Liberace-style. Sometimes he eschews the band (good as it is) to accompany himself on the piano, and it works very well indeed, as it always did.
‘I’ve grown accustomed to her face’, ‘It was just one of those things’ and an encore of ‘My favourite year’ are outstanding in this set while good-old songs such as Harry Warren’s ‘The more I see you’ and Vincent Youmans’s ‘Without a song’ provide cheerful interludes. Sondheim’s ‘Losing my mind’, which is not usually sung by a man, has a warmth and emotional resonance hitherto not encountered elsewhere. With Lerner & Lane’s ‘What did I have that I don’t have?’ and a fitting selection of Gershwin numbers, chosen by the audience, Feinstein well and truly demonstrates the power of his art, accompanied in no small measure by a band of six musicians who produce a terrific sound.
Musically it is an evening to cherish and Feinstein is an instructive and authoritative musicologist as well as being a first-rate entertainer.
- Performances until Sunday 10 April 2011 nightly at 7.30 p.m.
- Tickets 08448 733433
- Part of Art of Song Festival, which also includes Cleo Laine (16 April), Norma Winstone, Tina May, Lee Gibson & Kenny Wheeler with the songs of Duncan Lamont (15 April), Stacey Kent (18 April), Fran Landesman with Ian Shaw & Gwyneth Herbert (19 April), plus late shows of the songs of John Barry (16 April), Earl Okin & Georgia Mancio in jazz and Brazilian song (15 April), Estelle Kokot & Kate Shortt (9 April) and a new writers’ night (8 April)