London Hippodrome, London
For a solo night, one of musical theatre’s more talented leading ladies Liz Robertson performed in the Matcham Room at London’s Hippodrome. Her show, Songs From My Trunk was a collection of memorable and inspirational numbers that have stayed with the singer since her teens and beyond and for a woman who has professionally found herself restricted to the Julie Andrews soprano range, the gig provided an opportunity to play around with some much loved melodies, hitherto denied her.
Robertson’s sound is exquisite. Her vocal clarity and ability to hold a note is a treat and there was only a hint of a wobble as she tackled The Beach Boys’ God Only Knows. (And to be fair, the song is a veritable Everest of a challenge). Her MD and friend of many years, Chris Walker, had compiled arrangements that were nearly all very easy on the ear and he conducted his three piece band with perceptive precision, subtle bass work and softened percussion giving a very jazzy feel to the evening.
Produced by Black Sapphire who are a welcome if relative newcomer on London’s cabaret scene, Robertson could perhaps have been better served by her producer shaking up the set list. Whilst some of the songs had a spark to their sweet melody, with her Old Black Magic and her second half opener, It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing being particular treats, too many of her anecdotes were anodyne and too many piquant numbers were blandly merged into each other, creating more of a wallpaper of sound that neither singer nor producer would have intended. That her take on Brian Wilson’s Beach Boys classic became seamlessly segued into Art Garfunkel’s I Only Have Eyes For You, did neither song any favours.
As an encore, Miss Robertson gave an uplifting Birth To The Blues that for the first time that evening, got this reviewer’s toes tapping. More of that sensation would have been welcome and if Songs From My Trunk is a noble try-out of a future set, then perhaps an inclusion of one or two of Robertson’s finer career show tunes may just make the night’s sound a little more elevating than elevator. This diva is unquestionably enchanting, she just needs her set to be a little more thrilling. Her London return is eagerly awaited.