An Evening with Neil Sedaka

The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

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Daniel Pollitt

Four stars

SELF-PROCLAIMED “King of the La la la…” was back, this time in a short wheelbase transit van. Parked outside stage door it hinted that this wasn’t a big band affair. In the auditorium the evidence compounded; single mic, solitary piano, one stool. Neil is intent on feathering his long-overdue nest-egg, and so he should.

Before setting a glinting dress shoe upon the stage we’re reminded via video of the artists who have covered Sedaka’s catalogue; Connie Francis, Carole King, Peggy Lee, Tom Jones, Elton John, Frank Sinatra and Elvis P. If we’d forgotten that we were in the presence of greatness, here was our reminder.

“Good evening!” began Sedaka’s colloquy, in a two-hour performance brimming with cosy familiarity. Two years shy of his 80th birthday, and with voice still strong, the cheeky chanteur enthralled his capacity audience, with songs they’ve known all their lives, most, arguably, rooted to a template – love, lost love, reminiscence and regret. From the regret category, Solitaire received the biggest ovation of the evening, Neil proud to announce that more than 50 artists have covered it. Should pay for the van.

Sedaka gave sentimental nod to lyricist Howard Greenfield with a moving introduction followed by the ‘Dear John’ portrait, Our Last Song Together. The chat-song-chat format continued, with some monologue self-effacing, before reassuringly moving on to inform us about how touched he was when Frank Sinatra sang The Hungry Years as he entered Las Vegas’ Desert Inn.

Neil first performed in Glasgow at the Apollo in 1961. Will we see him here again? Anyone’s guess. As he waved us off with encore after encore – including Amarillo – he revealed that breaking up was indeed hard to do.

Daniel Pollitt