On our first visit to the Pizza Express Live venue at Holborn, it was a pleasure to find out that this venue has a degree of musical history dating back to the 60's and also that it has a somewhat eclectic booking policy, which in future weeks will host acts from The Blow Monkeys to Su "Hi Di Hi" Pollard! The venue itself dowstairs was a delight, with close up seats next to the stage and an array of tables for everyone else. The sound on the evening was perfect and even if the business of selling pizzas is done in a fairly unobtrusive way so as not to interfere with the performances.
The last time #TEAMw21 witnessed the marvel that is Lucy May was at the wondrous launch of her second album at the Islington, it was a full band, soul review experience replete with backing singers and Lucy May never looked or sounded better. It's been four years since then and it was great to hear that not only has she recently returned from a spell as one of Michael Bolton's backing singers but also that she is about to pick up a residency in Nashville.
Having alway looked as if she she could have been plucked from the 1960's it should really come as no surprise that she should find herself at home with a sound akin to the girl groups of the era. Tonight was to be no soul review with only a couple of acoustic guitarists in tow, including long time associate Gonzo - however it did give both us and Lucy a chance to review and reassess her back catalogue - and as she arrived on stage with her tambourine streaming ribbons - she was to reveal herself to be a real 60's soul cat!
Opening with "Little By Little" it was great to report no long term effects from her bout from covid, in fact if anything her voice sounded richer more confident and self assured then ever, the stripped back sound allowing a chance to really allow the lyrics to shine. Able to retain the soulful party vibe of the recording this was a great way to welcome her back. Moving to the slower soul of "Counting The Days", Lucy took the mic and both looked and sounded like a classic soul diva, clearly loving every minute.
It was noticable how songs from the first album were also transformed by their new soulful reinterpretation, "Keep Your Hands Off My Man", was reinvigorated, and saw Lucy continuing like a trouper despite some audible interference throughout that maybe might have derailed her all those years ago - certainly not now though.
Taking to her stool for "Mixed Emotions", this was another demonstration of complete vocal control and of Lucy really inhabiting the song, giving it that extra feel of making the lyrics real and personal. Reuniting hersefl with the tambourine "Ain't About You" had a delightful uptempo cheeky feel to it, while the stripped back version of "New" promoted the lyrics more to the forefront, the "I remember you when you were new" seemed more cutting.
For "Better Off Now" we got the first sighting of Lucy publicly playing guitar, not really one our favourites, the quality chorus is not really matched by the slightly shoehorned lyrics of the verses. If it was a glitch it was temporary and was instantly obliterated by her recent cover of Gladys Knight & The Pips "You're The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me". A favourite of her parents, this version was simply gorgeous with Lucy channelling her inner Gladys with the feel and affection of someone who has listened to the record a zillion times - one of the highlights of the night for sure.
A closing salvo from her debut album saw "Don't Wait Up" become an all round more sophisticated pop song while the inevitable closer "Whirlwind" also found a new lease of life and brought the evening to a wonderful close and reminded us of just what we had been missing on the London scene.
The last time Deeanne Dexeter played for us was as Buckle & Boots in a both visually and aurally stunnin