Gig Review by Sara Reynolds / Gig Photography by Wayne Fox

Burt Bacharach

Excitement abounds, and for a Monday night the crowd of gowns and jewels that alight the stairs to the main symphony hall it’s clear this is an occasion that’s been much awaited. It is in fact the first time that Burt Bacharach has played Birmingham.

Burt Bacharach

To begin a medley of much loved songs originally sung by Dionne Warwick, including Walk On By Say A Little Prayer, and What The World Needs Now. I think it’s a testament to Dionne’s range that two female singers are employed here to cover the breadth of work she did with Bacharach.

Burt Bacharach

Afterwards we move onto some of Cilla Black’s much loved tracks including Anyone Who Ever Loved – a very moving rendition, never before had I listened to the lyrics in such depth, the song is absolutely heartbreaking, and looking back at videos from Cilla’s era absolutely made for her. In my opinion her voice at times wasn’t the prettiest, but certainly had a power that twangs hard at the heartstrings, far more than any other female vocal of the time.

Burt Bacharach

Burt Bacharach is very much a frail presence on stage, now at the age of 86, but is still very much commander of his own ship. His conducting roots still playing out nicely with his direction of his full band and singers. He tells us that back in the day there were so many rejections at first that “…you have to have the stomach for that sort of thing”, which he clearly did as he went on to a prolific career winning 3 Academy Awards, and 6 Grammy’s. He originally penned songs that he thought would be popular, and seemed a little embarrassed of these now, an awareness of his growth from then to the height of his successes between the 1950’s and 1980’s where his writing had become to large degrees far more sophisticated.

Burt Bacharach

A testament to Burt’s later writing was The Beatles taking on one of his songs for their own – Baby It’s You (and due to the strength of their own song writing abilities, something that they rarely did).

Burt Bacharach

The part I looked forward to was later in the set when Burt and his band produced a medley of his music from motion pictures which included The Look Of Love, the theme tune from Arthur, and Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, the theme from ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ which received a big roar from the crowd.

Burt Bacharach

Burt Bacharach only sings a few of his own songs here tonight, one being the theme tune to Alfie. Despite Burt’s physical frailty, and almost because of it, his voice is pitched perfectly for the more emotive and beseeching parts of the song. Indeed we have to listen a little closer, but the effect is just as rewarding.

Burt Bacharach

At the end there is an encore of course where Burt plays a few of his newer recordings, he says maybe he’ll come back too, and after the wonderful experience of tonight’s 2 hour set, it will certainly be an occasion to get dressed up for.

Burt Bacharach

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