Monday, 1 October 2012

Marc Almond

HMV Picture House, Edinburgh
4 stars
The two cuddly toys perched side by side on a stool at the front of the 
stage don't really fit in with the mirror ball and after-hours pink 
lighting that sets the mood with the sort of contradictions which has 
defined Marc Almond's career, from the kitchen-sink sleaze of Soft Cell 
to torch singing drama queen and beyond. Last year he performed at the 
Traverse Theatre in Ten Plagues, a darkly dissonant song cycle by 
playwright Mark Ravenhill and composer Conor Mitchell. For this current 
Pop Troubadour, Hits and More Tour, Almond has lightened up 
considerably to revisit a back catalogue that stretches out over more 
than thirty years.

He opens with the call to arms of The Stars We Are, a sweepingly rich 
scene-setter that already sounds triumphant. Sporting a shimmery black 
shirt that billows as he strikes poses, Almond is backed by a piano-led 
band augmented by accordionist and larger than life support act Baby 
Dee, last seen in these parts at Arika's Instal festival in Glasgow. 
All of this lends a sprightliness to a show that flits from hit to hit, 
with Almond energised by the warmth of the response.

A mid-set Jacques Brel section sees Almond accompanied by solo piano on 
If You Go Away, before the band rejoin him to gallop through Jackie and 
a countrified The Days of Pearly Spencer. Something's Gotten Hold of My 
Heart is dedicated to the late Gene Pitney, before the show climaxes 
with a Soft Cell trilogy of Tainted Love, What? and Say Hello Wave 
Goodbye. For a version of T-Rex's Hot Love, Almond let his hair down for the 
cuddliest of finales.

The Herald, October 1st 2012

ends

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