Elaine Paige, Lowther Pavilion, Lytham
This was The Unexpected Elaine Paige and, on reflection, will be remembered for the lady’s bravado.
Who else could open a concert with songs she admitted we might never have heard before?
What diva of the West End and the Royal Albert Hall would be content with a jazz quintet and would open her heart for the days of youth and those romantic 1960s songwriters like Harry Nilsson and Jim Webb?
This was clearly the nostalgic Elaine Paige she wanted us to see.
But this lady has made it through the rain to comfortably wear a knee length fringed dress to look a couple of decades short of the 68 years stated on her driving licence.
Her superb five-man group, led from keyboards by John G. Smith – the musical director of the West End hit Beautiful (The Carole King Story) – made this such an intimate show, the more so for its compact Lowther Pavilion setting.
“I’d no idea this bijou theatre existed,” confided Elaine, whose previous Lytham visit was in last year’s Festival, on the Green.
After unexpected versions of Paul Simon’s Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover and Bread’s Guitar Man, there was a plaintive delivery of Paul McCartney’s Yesterday before the necessary inclusion of I Know Him So Well, from Chess.
MacArthur Park, which Elaine included on a 1980s album, revealed her knowledge of the 1968 Richard Harris version (she sang it MacArthur’s Park).
And then, having indulged the star her wander through her hippie days – “I lived in a commune” but admitted it was in a Hampstead penthouse – we heard what some patrons had been waiting for.
Memory, from Cats, was not as strong as remembered. If You Love Me, from Piaf, was powerful, and With One Look, from Sunset Boulevard, was a stunning piece of drama.