Ian Shaw & Friends – Live Music Review

IT is the mark of a musical genius when they are granted an extended run at a venue that most musicians would die to play at for a single night. 

Step forward  the genius that is the ebullient, entertaining and hugely talented Ian Shaw who has just embarked upon an eight night run at the foxy Pizza Express Live Jazz Club  in London’s Soho. Based on his performance on Monday night (January 24), it’s going to be fun from start to finish. Pizza with a naughty and zesty great big topping of Shaw. 

Billed as Ian Shaw And Friends, the run sees him doubling up with some of the leading lights in the world of jazz: the likes of saxophonist Tony Kofi, Canadian Heather Bambrick and Madeline Bell.  

Shaw is a wonderful performer on stage. He’s witty, occasionally outrageous, and never fails to entertain. His massive personality – and love of music – shines through everything he does. And musicians love him, hence his ability to get the likes of Bambrick and Bell to cross the Atlantic to sing with him. 

On Monday night, he was joined on stage by friend  and outstanding soul and jazz singer Natalie Williams – a mighty musical force in her own right (complete with wonderful orange high heels that lit up the stage like neon lights). Her voice is both powerful and sensual – enough to melt hearts.

It made for a superb night of music as they sang an eclectic mix of songs with Shaw sitting at the piano: everything from Joni Mitchell (an exquisite A Case of You – ‘oh I could drink a case of you darling’ ) through to Dionne Warwick’s Alfie (made famous by Cilla Black), an achingly beautiful With Every Breath I Take and a little bit of Burt Bacharach (What The World Needs Now Is Love) .

The finale was one of Shaw’s favourite songs – 42 (a duet that he normally sings with Liane Carroll).

With Shaw, you never quite know where he’s heading next. He’s like a living breathing jukebox – with the ability to pluck songs out of the  air. You expect a bit of Mitchell (an idol of his)  and besides A Case Of You  Big Yellow Taxi got a gleeful airing. But he’s quite happy going off piste as in a wonderfully witty Don’t Text Your Ex. More a rant than a song, but hugely amusing.

With Williams delivering a delightful I Wish I Were In Love Again  – ‘when love congeals it soon reveals the faint aroma of performing seals’ – and  a homage to Nancy Wilson (And I Love Him), this was a night of treats. 

The icing on the cake was Aretha Franklin’s Natural Woman – with Shaw and Williams joined on stage by Brendan Reilly, Vula Malinga and Natalie’s sister Annabel (all members of Natalie’s Soul Family that plays regularly at nearby Ronnie Scott’s). What a soul searching voice Malinga possesses. Incredible. The £20 ticket price was worth it for this song alone.

So, if you’re in the mood for live music (as you should always be) and you’re in London this week (or Monday January 31), there’s only one place to be. Pizza Express Live (Soho). The genius that is Shaw (a national treasure) will guarantee to entertain you while you chew away on your cheesy pizza, washed down with a glass or three of Soave.




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