Me, Tom Self & I marked the cabaret debut of Tom Self, showcasing an evening of the man’s own writing. The gig was polished, witty and wonderfully performed with an ambience that suggested an accomplished cabaret artiste rather than debutant.
Hitherto a musical director, teacher, writer and actor-musician, Self has already notched up an impressive tally of 20 pantomimes that he has written for or musically arranged. Only in his early 30s he shows a keen eye for sharp lyrical connections and an impressive range of musical styles around which he has arranged his words.
The one-act set lasted a crisp 75 minutes with Self’s autobiographical patter matching the wit of his songs. Looking out at a packed Crazy Coqs filled largely on this opening night with family and friends, Self remarked that it all was “a bit like being at my own wake!”. A clever and confident gag that set the tone for the evening.
Self played 10 of his own compositions on piano, ably accompanied by Elliot Mackenzie on bass and Luke Thornton on drums with Laura Sillet, Lewis Asquith and Alex Tomkins providing vocal support. Opening the show with the appropriately titled The Opening Song, Self displayed a clever understanding of melody, structure and humour in his writing. Cockney Knees Up followed, deploying a knowing use of Cockney rhyming slang.
Royal Dreams Come True from Self’s Sleeping Beauty pantomime score was a fun duet between the writer and Tomkins set to a bossa nova, while The Cinema Song (from the Brief Encounter stage show) brought an authentic 1930’s feel to its words and music.
The evening’s vocal highlight was Sillett’s take on Don’t Talk About Christmas, while Self’s Post Show Blues, written about the melancholy that can descend when a show’s run ends and the company break up, contained perhaps the evening’s killer lyric: “How quickly an overture becomes the final bow”. Powerful, perceptive writing.
Sasha, Nadia and Jasmine, a trio of students from Self’s alma mater Trinity Laban made fine work of another Sleeping Beauty number Fight For The One, before Self brought the proceedings to a close with a cover of the Victoria Wood Covid-inspired classic, Let’s Do It.
For a newcomer to the world of cabaret performance, Self’s confident charm and musical talent are an astonishing delight. This evening’s performance marks what must surely be the launch of yet another strand to his accomplished career to date.
If you missed tonight’s show don’t worry. Tom Self is back at the Crazy Coqs in two weeks time in what will most likely be another sell-out performance!