50 years in and it’s been quite the career for Lulu.
Playing to screaming teens on tour with the Walker Brothers, showbiz marriages, recording with the legendary Muscle Shoals band, and, lest we forget, playing Adrian Mole’s mum, and much, much more.
Now, ahead of her appearance in the upcoming Ab Fab film, she’s back on the road for a second sold out tour in support of her first album in 10 years, ‘Making Life Rhyme’, self-penned and which she says “got the best reviews of my entire career”.
She opens with a version of ‘Relight My Fire’ which sets the tone for evening. Covers will mix with some of her biggest hits, along with songs from the new album, such as the excellent Shangri-la’s infused ‘Heaven Help’.
Impressively svelte, clad in black and sporting a trilby (“so I don’t have to do my hair”) she’s a whirlwind of energy throughout the two plus hours she’s onstage, and her voice has lost none of it’s power over the last five decades.
Her hit cover of ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ is dedicated to David Bowie who produced it for her and ‘I Don’t Wanna Fight’, the first song she ever wrote which then went on to be a worldwide hit for Tina Turner, is stripped down and much more affecting for it.
The first half ends with her latest single, the Gary Barlow-esque ‘Cry’, where she’s joined onstage by none other then the Military Wives Choir - yes, THAT one. Didn’t see that coming.
Part two begins with an excellent acoustic segment of Bee Gees songs, Lulu remembering being in the studio with ex-husband Maurice Gibb and watching them writing ‘Run To Me’. It’s a truly spellbinding moment.
Mercifully, we’re spared a new reggae version of ‘To Sir With Love’ in favour of its original guise with it’s soaraway chorus as wonderful as ever.
As age-defying as she seems at 67 years old, Lulu can’t help but be a bit old school, and nearly every song is introduced with a story and hammy tinkly piano accompaniment. This is a woman who presented the National Lottery after all.
We finish with - what else? - a barnstorming ‘Shout’ and a soul medley encore and Lulu is away.
True, not every song hits the mark, but it seems churlish to complain at a show that lasts for so long, but maybe more of her own material and fewer covers would have been preferable. No ‘Boat That I Row’, no ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’, not even Eurovison winner ‘Boom-Bang-A-Bang’. I demand an enquiry.
But such oversights aside, there was no doubting her sincerity and obvious love of what she does, and if she’s able to perform to this impressive standard, she will hopefully continue to do so.