Friday, 20 January 2012

Cyndi & Sandie

Having nothing better to do on New Year’s Eve, I watched a bit of Jools Holland’s Hootenanny (HOOTENANNY!) to usher in 2012 and whilst enjoying the usual entertaining mix of acts backed largely by his own Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, I was constantly nagged by one question that seemed to loom large over the proceedings.  And it was this: Why do the older generations of popular music just refuse to go quietly?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, just a little mystified that most acts who are now edging retirement age are not donning the comfy slippers and having an early night.  Exhibit A was Sandie Shaw who did first rate versions of both ‘Always Something There to Remind Me’ and ‘Long Live Love’ whilst predictably bare footed and wearing a dress that she probably bought in 1967 and showed acres of well preserved leg.  But not only that, she danced, flirted with Jools, sat on fellow guest James Morrison’s lap and generally terrorised the audience.  No wonder Jools saw her off with a ‘Wild Woman of Rock’ accolade.  ‘Such fun’, to coin a phrase.

The other thing that I find a bit disconcerting about performers of her vintage is the voice.  Obviously, age plays tricks with your vocal chords and the register and timbre often change as the years go by.  This is only to be expected.  But what is a little disconcerting is that every now and again, the younger version of the voice peeps through and it feels like the years have rolled back just for an instant.  This was very apparent during Sandie’s performance.  If you closed your eyes it was like her older and younger selves were vying for prominence in a Dr Who timey-wimey sort of way.  Weird.
Exhibit B was Cyndi Lauper, who whilst not quite as old as Ms Shaw, also refuses to grow old gracefully.  She also is beginning to show signs of the dual voice syndrome when doing her hits.  We were treated to an utterly mad version of ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ and a beautifully re-arranged version of ‘Time After Time’ with strings and pipes.  Not only that, she showed us a new side to her with a traditional blues number from her 2010 album, ‘Memphis Blues’ which I thought suited her perfectly.  It takes character to sing the blues and Cyndi has it in spades.

I like Cyndi Lauper a lot.  She is humble and has a true musical soul.  Her performances were mesmerising and full of heartfelt honesty.  How unlike her hard-nosed business woman contemporary, Madonna.  Madge, take note – you may be infinitely richer but you could learn a lot from Cyndi.  And even Sandie.


Jayne said...

I think the mystery is cleared up with the words 'first rate'. As long as they can still sing and have fun, why not? It's their talent.

I think it is that 'close your eyes' time-travel which is the main thing, and that probably says more about us as the viewer/listener than about them. It's a reminder that we're getting older. and no one likes to be reminded!

music obsessive said...

Hi Jayne. I'm afraid that age is now the curse of the Baby Boomers! Still, it is nice to see the older generation of acts still having something to offer. But as you point out, only if they can still sing to a reasonable standard. Unfortunately there are some around where the ego has over-ridden the talent!