STEVE Norman remains a charismatic live performer, adored by many (especially women) for his Spandau Ballet heritage, exquisite playing of the saxophone, and sense of mischief and fun.
What also stands him apart from many others is the fact that through all the highs and lows since the late 1970s the 58 year old Norman has always remained well grounded. Family and friends matter big time in his life as does partner Sabrina Winter, an accomplished musician in her own right. Family, friends and music – the foundations of the great man’s life.
On Saturday night (December 8) at Pizza Express Live (Holborn), Norman was surrounded by family – both onstage (son Jaco on bass guitar) and off-stage (mum Sheila and daughter Lara, a renowned chef).
It was a night made even more poignant by the fact that it was in memory of Norman’s sister Dee who died in September from cancer – with money being raised on the night for charity Breast Cancer Now. ‘Thinking of those we have lost,’ he said before launching into the first song of the night, Across The Universe.
As for ‘friends’, new and old, they rolled on and off stage at a greater frequency than Southern Rail trains leaving Waterloo Station. Singer Paul McCormick appeared to sing Spandau’s Only When You Leave and a little later a rousing Through The Barricades with Norman on saxophone.
Also popping up to play guitar was the legendary James Stevenson (Generation X, Kim Wilde) while the night’s climatic end saw Dee and Shirley Lewis provide stunning backing vocals on True and I Don’t Need This Pressure On.
To round off the night, they then led the way in an uplifting We Are Family (Sister Sledge) and Chic’s Good Times – with the stage resembling a packed Waterloo platform in rush hour (not a train in sight, mind you).
Of course, there was much more besides with Norman paying homage to many of his heroes – Elvis Presley (Mystery Train), David Bowie (Absolute Beginners, All the Young Dudes) and Al Green (Let’s Stay Together).
He also paid a nice tribute to the late Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks while dazzling the audience with his playing of the soprano saxophone on Neptune’s Apprentice and Nick Cave’s Where The Wild Roses Grow. I Get Up I Get Down, a song written with Cutting Crew’s Nick Van Eede, demonstrated that Norman can still write some powerful music.
Winter provided super backing vocals throughout and led with panache on Where The Wild Roses Grow. Paul Cuddeford (guitar) and an ever smiling Joe Bongo Becket on an assortment of drums and percussion were sublime throughout.
With Norman embracing the audience at every opportunity with his mix of cheek and charm, this was a winning night. An evening with an emotional undercurrent but a truly fitting tribute to Dee Norman, taken far too young.