Live reviews

REVIEW: Simone Craddock at Crazy Coqs

Simone Craddock
Photo credit: Emrys Baird

Simone Craddock
(Crazy Coqs, 9 June 2018. Review by Kate Delamere)

In a slinky red sparkly dress looking like a version of femme fatale Jessica Rabbit, glamorous Australian-born jazz singer Simone Craddock promised much when she hit the stage at London’s Crazy Coqs on Sunday night. Singer, songwriter and actress, this lady’s been busy and showcased a variety of original compositions of songs from contemporary artists from the worlds of pop and jazz, as well as featuring her own.

A combo of God Save the Queen/Queen’s We Will Rock You and Duffy’s Mercy provided a punchy opening, along with an inventive version of Creep by Radiohead. But by the time she sang Almost Blue by Elvis Costello, I was feeling almost blue in spite of the more-than-competent talents of Alex Hutton on the piano and Nick Pini on bass.

I found myself drifting away from Simone’s sweet tones, feeling there was something missing… that elusive spark. Nothing was wrong, just nothing right..

It’s No Big Deal, sang Simone defiantly, in her own song, but it was.

There was something a tad too slick about her performance, too neatly reminiscent of a West End musical, but then, of course, she is an actress with leading roles under her belt in shows from Dirty Dancing to Hello Dolly! And sadly, I’m no fan of all-singing, all-dancing musicals…

Perhaps I expected too much. After all, a brief look around the audience revealed rapt, captivated faces, hanging on her every note; and she can certainly hit high ones. And some of her compositions were not to be sniffed at, clever and unique, imprinting her stamp. Songs that stood out – Back to Black by Amy Winehouse, Careless Whisper by George Michael, The Man With the Child in His Eyes by Kate Bush, Life on Mars by David Bowie. But then with classic contemporary songs like that, how could she go wrong?

And yet what the performance lacked, at times, the intimate venue – with its Art Deco setting, winding staircases made for big entrances and photographs of past stars – more than made up for.

I’d thoroughly recommend soaking up the atmosphere of this special venue with a pre-show supper in the grand Parisian-style Brasserie Zédel. Not only does it offer good value French food but also friendly attentive waiters, who, if you’re enjoying yourself too much, ensure you get to your table to watch the show in time.

But back to Simone. In actress mode, she kept the crowd entertained in between songs with an assortment of accents. But I came to hear her sing. “Less acting, more song,” I wanted to heckle. “Whatever you want me to be,” smiled Simone to her audience at one point. And therein the problem may lie; I fervently wanted her to come down on one side or the other.

I wish I’d stayed for her combo of Here Comes The Sun and Something by George Harrison. But the evening became too much like musical theatre.

I’m sorry, it wasn’t you Simone, it was me.

Categories: Live reviews

2 replies »

  1. I have been in this game for almost 40 years now. I have toured the world for most of that time as a band member of many respected artists to include Maynard Ferguson, Dianne Schuur, The Mavericks, The U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors, etc. and I'm calling out this review…if you wanna call it that. To me it reads more like back handed compliments, snide remarks and a very dismissive treatment of three of London’s prominent jazz musicians…yes, three. There was a drummer there too – Tristan Mailliot – but perhaps one of London's most in demand drummers didn't deserve a mention…

    It is a reviewer’s job to bring the performance to the reader. Accurately and succinctly… Oh…but we did learn what dress the singer wore and that everybody but the reviewer enjoyed themselves…is Miss Craddock really to be penalised because she happens to be an articulate and funny actress as well as a damn fine vocalist? Does this also apply to Frank Sinatra? Louis Armstrong? I seem to remember Ella doing impressions at her live concerts also…

    Let’s call this pigeon-holing out. Simone Craddock falls between two worlds but she embraces that individuality and forges a new path for herself. Isn’t that how jazz was born? She dares to be different.

    Yeah, she has an impressive career in theatre behind her…as I see you do too Ms D…more comedy monologues and plays for Northampton Derngate than music reviews in fact…But as you say, back to Simone. As a co-writer and friend, I don’t think I’m remiss in making this known…She had time to soundcheck a few songs that night. The rest, along with her witty repartee, were improvised. I’d say she’s got the goods, Kate.

    People, if you've not seen Simone live, hop on it! Unique voice, serious songwriting chops, original arrangements and she's funny as hell! Full package.

    Paul Armstrong

  2. Paul thank you for taking the trouble to write in and for giving more background and information, and also for balancing up Kate Delamere's review with some more context about the show and the artists.

    If you know the LJN site you will, I hope, see that this is a place where we think seriously about the ethics of reviewing, and where the craft of the musician is always valued. Simone – I know – has seen the review and has found some of the criticism constructive.

    We always know we can improve what we do here, and thank you for your criticism which will help us in that endeavour.

    Sebastian Scotney (founder / editor)

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