THIS show was a warm but not quite triumphal homecoming for Dennistoun’s Marie Lawrie, known to all and sundry as Lulu, disadvantaged as she was by a disappointing turnout and initially muted reception from her fellow Glaswegians
Lulu - Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow
Seemingly undaunted, she opened her mouth and let that raspy voice rip on a version of Republica’s Ready to Go, possibly picked as a statement of intent but one which did her foghorn delivery no favours. Take That’s Relight My Fire was a more forgiving choice but the rest of her set was a tussle to balance the vagaries of a long but piecemeal pop career.
Her pub soul belter delivery hampered The Man Who Sold the World almost as much as the faux Bowie backing vocals of her band. There was a similar sense of contrivance, or at least of trying too hard, on other tracks. I Don’t Wanna Fight was performed as an earnest duet with her guitarist and there were periodic indulgent ruminations on her songwriting journey, which now appears to have arrived at that bland, radio-friendly pop/rock middle ground. Where the Poor Boys Dance, with its sentimental nostalgia for her early days, could easily pass muster in a Simple Minds or Wet Wet Wet set.
But she also threw herself into rhythm’n’blues standards such as Unchain My Heart and Try A Little Tenderness which were just a touch beyond her vocal abilities. She fared much better on the pop R&B of Every Single Day from her new album of self-penned songs, Making Life Rhyme, and was just easing into proceedings as she reached the interval.
She returned with a tastefully restrained Bee Gees interlude, including Run to Me. A reggae version of To Sir With Love was not the horror show it could have been, while a fairly prim Sixties bubblegum rendition of Shout kicked off an instant (hen) party.
With both musicians and audience suitably revved up, everything finally clicked on the peppy Northern Soul stomp of Otis Redding’s I Can’t Turn You Loose and Edwin Starr’s 25 Miles, with some great call-and-response vocals from the band. But why wait until the encore to show off what you’ve got?