Gig review: Lulu - Under the Bridge, London
Nick Hasted has been a film journalist since 1986. He writes about film, music, books and comics for The Independent, Sight & Sound, Uncut and Little White Lies. He has published two books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), and You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), both from Omnibus Press.
Monday 07 October 2013
Lulu has parlayed the effervescent energy and joyously explosive singing behind "Shout" into a showbiz career of ironclad durability. She has rarely let herself disappear since that 1964 hit, and notched resourcefully diverse achievements: impressive acting as a Sidney Poitier-bothering schoolgirl in To Sir, With Love, and visually shocked hosting of the TV show in which Jimi Hendrix announced his mighty talent in the 1960s; singing a Bond theme in the 1970s; raunchily collaborating with Take That on "Relight My Fire" in the 1990s; and this decade, "mentoring" on American Idol. If all I can remember from the 1980s is a guest appearance on Super Gran, I'm sure the fault is mine.
Next month, Lulu will be celebrating her 65th birthday, and a half-century of stardom. Almost inevitably, her latest career turn is, as she announces tonight, "songs from my roots": the soul and blues that hooked her as a Glasgow teenager. A recent, similar New York gig drew comparisons to another Bond theme artist, Adele. It's fair comment in that, as tonight shows, Lulu too is a British pop singer with a soulful grain to her voice. But not a soul singer.
The band kick into "Unchain My Heart" before she appears, with a pork-pie hat and jacket-sleeves rolled up, 1980s-style. Although I'm cynical about artists returning to "roots" when all other avenues are exhausted, Lulu seems to honestly love tonight's songs, earnestly lecturing us on them, and her own time on the great soul label Atlantic's roster
Her approach to "You Send Me" shows her flaws, compared to, say, a co-worker she mentions from her Atlantic days, Aretha Franklin. It's nearly all good-time music to Lulu. Beauty and tenderness are rare. And though her band are technically excellent, she's so much better when they ease off and you can hear her sing. Eric Clapton's "Bell Bottom Blues", as she begs, "Do you want to see me crawl across the floor?" is one such moment, building to a big finish from images of naked emotion. The Beatles' "In My Life", too, sung gently with her guitarist, is interpreted wonderfully. I hadn't registered Lennon's anti-nostalgic climax to his song of lost time, until Lulu brought it out. She finishes with "Shout", of course, managing to summon up some of her teenage TNT. So long as she can, Lulu will always be with us.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Bruce Jenner's 'Interview of the year': Suicidal thoughts, rejection by family members and new wardrobe
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 How to turn off/stop 'seen by' on Facebook: Disable it to make your chats seem less passive aggressive
- 4 'We're not heroes, just tourists': Swedish police officers on holiday stop vicious assault on New York subway
- 5 Buckingham Palace guard who attacked passers-by in 'most most violent piece of CCTV footage' police officer had seen walks free
MasterChef, TV review: The final climaxed in a frenzy of herbs and hyperbole
Everyday People project: Photographer Pablo Conejo placed an ad on Gumtree - and kickstarted a series of interesting encounters
Male student sues Columbia University for 'gender-based harassment' after alleged 'Mattress Performance' rape victim Emma Sulkowicz went public with claims
MasterChef 2015: Simon Wood named winner
Black Mass trailer: Johnny Depp might have started making good films again
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Katie Hopkins on LBC: Listen to caller taking The Sun columnist to task over migrant comments
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove