Lulu has had an extraordinary career on stage and screen, as an actress, presenter and pop icon. Even after fifty years in the biz, she is still going strong after releasing the most well-received album of her career, the self-penned Making Life Rhyme last year and embarking on her first solo tour in ten years. Her show is a night of new songs, and a new slant on the old ones. A night of reflection on her life and homage to people and an era that created pop music as we know it.
The Glaswegian lass has always been know to be a sassy ball of energy, and nothing has changed. Setting the energy to overload levels from the moment she storms the iconic stage at Watford's Colosseum to perform Relight My Fire, the track that reinvigorated her career in the 90s followed by the excellent and thoroughly modern Faith In You, from the new album. She also plays tribute to close friend, the late David Bowie by singing his song The Man Who Sold The World which was a hit for her in 1974.
Ever the consummate professional, she is supremely confident on stage yet shares her emotional vulnerability with the audience as though she is talking to an old friend. She talks honestly about her life, loves and career stating that what she feels now is gratitude, which she mentions several times during the show. She goes on to say she has been incredibly lucky and has 'angels on her shoulders,' you get the feeling she has lived a charmed life, she certainly tells it like it is.
Heaven Help is inspired by this and is another contemporary sounding track with a 60s Phil Spector twist that could have easily come from a Meghan Trainor or Paloma Faith album. To Sir With Love, gets a millennial makeover. It's a tender re-working, made all the more poignant by Lulu's reminder that the film had to be made in the UK because of segregation, America film would never have allowed a white girl to fall in love with a black teacher. In spite of the politics across the pond, the song stayed at the top of the US charts for six weeks and sold in excess of a million copies at the time!
She talks about her time married to Maurice Gibb, and how the Bee Gees were always splitting up. However, when they got back together, that chemistry and synergy between them was always there with Lulu proclaiming that no-one writes songs better than the Bee Gees, there are those equal to them, but none better. As she performs, Run To Me, To Love Someone – her Mothers favourite song from the period and Message To You, the short time they were married has clearly had a profound effect on her own world view as a writer and performer and that the brothers were a sort of muse for her. Indeed, it was her own brother Billy that encouraged her to start writing songs. She tells the audience frankly that she was always hesitant because she had known some of the best writers of her generation and didn't feel she could compete. Ironically, it was in the aftermath of her breakup to John Freida that she and Billy penned the emotionally charged I Don't Want To Fight No More, which was a massive hit for Tina Turner. When she sings this tonight you can tell she still resonates with the lyrics and the sentiment of the song – it still touches her deeply.
Cry featuring the Military Wives Choir gets a standing ovation in the first half and of course the evening wouldn't be complete without her iconic song, Shout to close the show. Lulu also took the opportunity of being in Watford to record a birthday message to her friend Elton John, having to turn down an invite to his celebration to create a party of her own on his home turf. An encore of classic soul tracks, Can't Turn You Lose and 25 Miles brings a look back at the last five decades to a rapturous close.
Lulu is certainly an inspiration, looking much younger than her 67 years with the and attitude (in a good way) of someone half her age. This is accentuated by surrounding herself with some hugely talented younger musicians who give a modern edge to the productions. They all sing, enabling some great backing harmonies and opportunities for duets with her fabulous guitarists, including a riotous version of Hound-dog with Louis Riccardi and the bluesy Wait For Me with The Southern Companion frontman Darren Hodson. (If you're not familiar with the work of either of them, I'd urge you to check it out.) It's an absolute pleasure to see a performer really involve her musicians in the show, rather than have them merely being a backing band. Lulu's honest and generous performance style has always endeared fans to her, there's no pretence here, or dramatics, just the profound universal message of music and how it touches all our lives.