Music review: Madeleine Peyroux

Madeleine Peyroux is a fine singer but no comedian
Madeleine Peyroux is a fine singer but no comedian
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Madeleine Peyroux is a jazz/blues interpreter of some renown. What she’s not, as this ingratiating performance made abundantly clear, is a comedian. Alas, that didn’t stop her from indulging in painfully unfunny stabs at mirth, all of which served to undermine her undoubted vocal gifts.

Madeleine Peyroux **

City Halls, Glasgow

Seated throughout, the American musician accompanied herself on acoustic guitar and ukulele while backed by upright bassist Barak Mori and guitarist Jon Herington. They’re a talented combo. Peyroux’s expressive Billie Holiday-influenced voice combined with Mori and Herington’s nimble-fingered playing and charming backing vocals fomented a warm, intimate sound.

Unfortunately, they squandered it on frustratingly rearranged covers and woeful comedy. Their version of ‘40s blues ditty Hello Babe was transformed against its will into a toothless piece of anti-Trump satire, during which Peyroux mugged embarrassingly while miming a phone call with the moronic POTUS. The easily pleased audience dutifully chuckled at this and an eye-rolling version of I Ain’t Got Nobody, reimagined as a cry for help from the Democrats.

She even managed to eke cosy titters from her cover of Randy Newman’s bleak addiction ballad, Guilty. At the mention of scoring cocaine, she exchanged a mock-accusatory glance with Mori, who responded with a “Who, me?!” expression of – ha ha! – guilt.

Why Peyroux chooses to sabotage her presumably sincere intentions with sub-par pantomime is anyone’s guess. Even when playing it straight, her arrangements of Tom Waits’ Tango Till They’re Sore and Leonard Cohen’s Bird on The Wire were rendered pointless by her insistence on ignoring their melodies.