STEVE Norman remains an irresistible force. Put him in front of an audience, give him a saxophone and a microphone, and he will mesmerise all before him until they can be mesmerised no more.
Charm oozes from his every pore. He’s cheeky, chatty, welcoming and witty in equal measure. Born to entertain. And boy can he perform, especially when playing his saxophone. Fifty nine he may be, but he looks considerably younger and struts around stage as if he is still in his youth. Whatever he’s taking, I want, even if it is just an occasional overdose of fizzing Berocca.
Appearing at Pizza Express Live in London’s Holborn for two nights (May 3 and 4), the ex-Spandau Ballet saxophonist lived up to expectation as he peppered the largely female audience (no surprise there given his loveliness) with an assortment of Spandau hits, a few of his own compositions (a rousing I Get Up I Get Up Down) and his take on songs made famous by icons such as Bowie, Al Green, Presley and Sade – Starman, Let’s Stay Together, Mystery Train and Smooth Operator.
With superb support from a sublime Paul Cuddeford on guitar, a bubbly Joe Bongo Becket on a jungle of drums and percussion, son Jaco on bass guitar, and Sabrina Winter on backing vocals and playing a menagerie of strange looking instruments, the night was a treat from start to finish. Indeed, Winter and Norman’s duo Where The Wild Roses Grow (an old Nick Cave song) was one of the night’s highlights with Norman lacing the song with exquisite musical emissions from his purring saxophone. Musically orgasmic. Winter, me thinks, needs more air time.
Of course, it’s the Spandau hits that most of the audience are itching to hear – and Norman did not disappoint with superb versions of Chant No 1, Gold, True and Through The Barricades (with Paul McCormick on vocals). The sound of Norman’s saxophone soared stratospherically as bums lifted from seats in appreciation, hips swayed in unison and spines tingled.
With mum Sheila lending her support (as ever) from somewhere out in the darker reaches of the audience, this was a night laced with dollops of rich Steve Norman entertainment. He’s a British institution and should be preserved in aspic.
Genuinely nice and genuinely bloody good – confirmed by the fact that a couple had travelled all the way from Australia to see him perform. For the record, they left with smiles that stretched from Holborn to Sydney.
Norman’s back at Pizza Express Live (Holborn) in December (20th and 21st). Super pre-Christmas fare. Unmissable.