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Mike Batt is perhaps synonymous with everyone's favourite recyclers, The Wombles, but he is so much more than bubblegum pop. Batt's outre personality and approach to songwriting have always enabled him to work outside the parameters of the industry. For close to fifty years, his Midas touch has been responsible for a number of earworms. Although this special evening only scratches the surface of 'greatest hits' - it's also worth mentioning his credits as the producer of Elkie Brooks' 'Lilac Wine, and he contributed lyrics and was responsible for arranging the iconic sound heard in the titular track of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'The Phantom of the Opera'. Given the mixed bag of Batt's career, it would be foolish to try and predict how the evening would pan out, but given his persona, it is almost certain to be an anything-goes event.

The intimate evening at the Bush Hall was originally planned for 2020, but after Covid threw the world into disarray, Batt's rescheduled show is a welcome throwback. The atmosphere is so cozy and relaxed, it's like having a songwriting treasure playing in your own front room. Strangely, 'Bright Eyes' doesn't feature in the twenty-song set list, but there are plenty of other delights. 'Summer Night City', 'Please Don't Fall in Love', 'A Winter's Tale', and no less than three Wombling delights. 'Imagine Something Yesterday", is a highlight - an outlandish mashup inspired by some of The Beatles' members' one-word songs. It's a perfect example of Batt's ability to bend and shape the musical form into something quirky and wonderful.

In between songs, Batt is self-deprecating and humorous and after the first of many fluffs, he jokes that "it wouldn't be a Mike Batt show if things didn't go wrong." The absence of a set list on stage probably didn't help, but between the false starts, forgotten words, and going off-book, the haphazard genius of Mike Batt shines through, like a venerable nutty professor of popular music. He enchants us with his rambling tales of how the song came to be and eventually - although not always - ends up back where he started. It's all part of the Mike Batt charm.

Special guest Paula Masterson joins Batt for several songs including 'Caravan Song' 'Round The Bend' and 'Guernica'. There's no doubt that Mike Batt has a gift for writing for the female voice. He worked with Katie Melua for ten years and performed 'Closest Thing to Crazy' and 'Nine Million Bicycles.'

A brilliantly bonkers show and a rare chance to see one of the 20th century's greatest songwriters up close and personal.


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