Pete Waterman: A Life in Song, Royal Festival Hall - review: Entertaining but disposable

The show felt rather like This is Your Life

Pierre Perrone
Thursday 30 July 2015 17:49
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As not-so-assured host Michael Grade acknowledged, this rather felt like This is Your Life for the British music mogul whose 22 number ones blessed and cursed the '80s in equal measure.

Cynics might add the evening also recalled Waterman's stint presenting The Hitman And Her, not to mention the working men's clubs where he discovered future chart-toppers Rick Astley and Steps.

Indeed, Astley's backing band did a sterling job recreating the Stock, Aitken Waterman assembly line, with session vocalist Lance Ellington stylishly interpreting ''Never Gonna Give You Up'', while Claire Richards of Steps valiantly reprised tunes associated with Kylie Minogue and Sonia and brightened up proceedings in a series of colourful dresses.

The disjoint between the anecdotes that didn't quite introduce the expected songs or vocalists became increasingly tiresome though Hi-NRG star Hazell Dean demonstrated her signature tune ''Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)'' remains one of the cornerstones of the pliable Waterman sound that has stretched as far as reggae, ska, Dead Or Alive and Bananarama, both conspicuous by their absence.

The ever reliable Jaki Graham delivered the Princess mid-'80s R&B smash ''Say I'm Your No. 1'' but, for all the talk of Tamla Motown and Burt Bacharah and “the fine line between banal and brilliant,” it's impossible to include Waterman in the Premier League of pop.

Minogue, Astley and Donna Summer aside, the acts he's been associated with over the years remain Championship outfits, occasionally entertaining but ultimately disposable.

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