What can you say about singer Catherine Sykes that hasn’t been said before? Here she was a performer who is used to the dynamics of a big band centre stage with a very complementary trio singing songs she is very comfortable with. The great American songbook was the basis of the show, but audiences were invited to throw in the odd request and we’ve all seen and heard situations where it’s not been tried out before and that can go horribly wrong. There was a song request from the audience after the break for one of those lesser known songs. It was from the show, ‘On The Town,’ and it was a collaboration of Leonard Bernstein, Betty Combden and Adolph Green. It was the beautiful and haunting Some Other Time. It was a while since Catherine had sung it, but she still came up with a pitch perfect rendition.
The musicians; Catherine had worked with the guys in the engine room before and they knew just how to add what needed adding. There was also room for them to shine for a few numbers without vocals with plenty of space for solos from them in some of the other songs. Those very able musicians were Paul Buck on keyboards, who managed to produce any sound you would like from the standard pianoforte to a muted trumpet to a string section to noises from the local dogs’ home. There’s more on that later. Clive Morton created the bass parts and some of his solos were really a joy to listen to. Terry Howard was the drummer and as always subtlety should be his middle name. There when needed but not in the front row. But if he hadn’t have been there, you’d have noticed.
The reference to the dogs’ home came about with a number for the audience to participate. Not always popular with some audiences, but on this occasion, a rendition of Peggy Lee’s The Lady And The Tramp, Paul Buck came to the rescue with barking sound effects on different notes added to his keyboard sounds. So instead of the audience having to provide those barking sounds, although I’m sure some did, his deft fingers were able to generate barks in any range of musical notes that were required. Novelty and entertainment together, but generally the evening was a real musical success. The audience said so as they were leaving. There were lots of positive comments.