Gig review – Joe Stilgoe & Liane Carroll, Pizza Express (Soho), 8 March 2016

I have to put my hand up and admit that I’m not a big fan of jazz singers.  Sure, I’m a big fan of Sinatra, Bennett, Ella & Louis, etc. but I prefer my jazz vocal free.  Joining friends to see Joe Stilgoe and Liane Carroll – both singer/pianists – at Soho’s Pizza Express wouldn’t therefore be my first choice for a gig.  But I try to keep an open mind and went along.

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The gig was part of the Steinway Festival 2016, so it wasn’t a surprise to see that two Steinway grand pianos (together worth a whopping £150k) were awaiting the performers.  The gig was also the first time the two had played together, which isn’t surprising given they’re both singer/pianists.

Kicking off the show was Liane Carroll (and by which time I’d polished off my pizza!).  It didn’t take me long to be won over.  The husky, blues-inflected tones were a perfect complement to her command of the Steinway.  Stilgoe (son of Richard, in case you were wondering) joined Carroll, evincing Cullum/Buble/Sinatra vocals – no bad thing in my book, and as much command of the piano.  The night wasn’t a strict jazz set, which made a refreshing change.  Stilgoe and Carroll, share a love of Carole King and one of the evening’s highlights was a version of King’s ‘Will you still love me tomorrow’ that segued into John Lennon’s ‘Jealous guy’ – with the two performers playing musical ping-pong.  What with Stilgoe’s wit, Carroll’s border-line irrevence, nods to the Eastender’s and Bullseye theme tunes and more than enough musicality to shake a stick at, it was a great night and I’m very glad I went along.

This gig was the perfect example of why people need to get out and see live music.  A CD or download will never capture the magic of a live performance such as this one.