With an old school showbiz flourish, a booming voiceover bid us welcome “the voice and the songs of Neil Sedaka”. The man and the music take equal billing at a Sedaka concert and both were still in great shape 65 years into his songwriting career (“I started when I was two,” he quipped, possibly not for the first time).
Neil Sedaka ***
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Arguably, his finger-popping teenybop hits from the late 1950s have kept Sedaka in youthful fettle. There cannot be many 78-year-olds who could carry off the cutesy Calendar Girl or Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen without sounding (at best) anachronistic, but Sedaka took such love and pride in his creations that it was hard not to be charmed.
These were the bubblegum ditties which made his name and his fortune until The Beatles rendered him and his Brill Building contemporaries redundant at a stroke. However, Sedaka’s Elton John-assisted comeback as a 1970s troubadour spawned a more sophisticated catalogue of his most enduring songs.
Going Nowhere, The Hungry Years and the much covered Solitaire, all simply rendered at the piano, were shot through with a moving strain of melancholy, offset by the chirpier love songs Laughter In The Rain and Love Will Keep Us Together, the latter crafted with a mix of Diana Ross, Al Green and Brian Wilson references.
Even after a non-stop 90 minutes, Sedaka was not quite done, encoring with a trio of disposable party tunes, That’s When the Music Takes Me, (Is This The Way To) Amarillo and I Go Ape as a farewell reminder of his pop versatility.