Cybill Shepherd, Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho, London

More sex please, Cybill, but less of the Great American Songbook
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The Independent Culture

Cybill Shepherd strode on stage in a black satin trouser- suit looking every inch the glamorous, mature actress, confidently dipping her toes into the schmaltzy swirl of cabaret.

Her entrance had been prepared perfectly for her: Tom Adams, her pianist from Los Angeles, played a swinging medley of tunes like an overture in a hotel bar, the texture so buffed up you could see your reflection in the sweet clusters of notes springing smoothly from his fingers. There was just one problem.

Whisper it softly, lest the hearts of her equally mature fans, who have lusted after her ever since The Last Picture Show and Taxi Driver, should require emergency medication – she hasn't got much of a voice. She has yet to master "Just In Time" and "Nice Work If You Can Get It", while taking on a well-known classic such as "Mad About The Boy" was like placing a bet on the England cricket team – you wish them well, but you know they're not going to win.

Quite simply, she does not have the vocal confidence to tackle the Great American Songbook convincingly. The shadows of the real masters of this art, the Tony Bennetts and the Ella Fitzgeralds, hung disapprovingly over her.

Miss Shepherd would do well to forget all about these numbers and concentrate on something on which she is a world-class expert: sex. Anyone who missed her appearance on Graham Norton's Channel 4 chat show – when she made some entertaining references to Elvis presley's sexual likes and dislikes - got the highlights at Pizza Express Jazz Club.

The audience soon knew what she meant. "I hear there's a lovely place near here called Shepherd's Bush," she said. A "Cybill sandwich" – let's just say it takes three to tuck into that dish – was also alluded to.

This was what the audience wanted, even if British reticence may not have made it immediately apparent to Miss Shepherd. Benny Hill would have blushed to hear the lyrics of a song about a wealthy lady lamenting the departure of her chef: "His jelly roll is nice and hot, never fails to hit the spot." Her own appetite was referred to in a reworking of the words to "I Got Rhythm": "I got your guy, who could ask for anything more?"

This material worked. Relaxed, confident, Shepherd blossomed when she sang and talked lewdly, frankly and occasionally sadly about her own adventures in the bedroom, although we were left in no doubt that she's far too free-thinking to confine her amours to one chamber.

By the end of her run I hope Shepherd gets the message: More Sex Please, Even Though We're British.

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