A Tribute toBurt Bacharach & Hal David

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Hal David, Petula Clark, Burt Bacharach singing "What the World Needs Now"
(London Evening Standard photo)

Show Reviews

Royal Albert Hall Review
London Evening Standard
3rd July 2000


You wouldn't think that a Nordoff-Robbins charity event in honour of the celebrated songwriting duo of Bacharach and David could be cause for mild controversy, but there was an element of that here. On one hand the fans who wanted to singalong to non-stop pop classics; on the other, those who wanted to admire the artistry in studied awe.

In between, were a few aggrieved punters who demanded to know where Bacharach and David actually were. Eventually Burt would appear to play piano for Elvis Costello and Dionne Warwick, while Hal emerged from the wings for bows and speeches.

The first half was dominated by Petula Clark and Sasha Distel, genuine stars both. Pet's status as our most successful female pop star was cemented by the gravitas she applied to A House is Not a home. Sacha's Gallic charms were self-evident in the gorgeous Raindrops keep fallin' on my head.
The second half began with a wobbly Leo Sayer rendition of (There's) Always Something There to Remind Me. It picked up steam once Costello added an element of class to I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself as Burt tinkled the ivories. Elvis slipped into Dionne and the night exploded with the urban classics "Walk on By, Say a Little Prayer, San Jose and Anyone who Had a Heart, a quartet of pop standards that give the genre a good name.


Bacharach and David Gala Tribute
Albert Hall

London Times
July 3, 2000

--by Paul Sexton

Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy is rightly revered as a source of inspiration to autistic and otherwise disabled children, but as part of its 25th anniversary on Friday, the charity raised further funds while providing another kind of public service. Tribute concerts often take place to a camouflaged backdrop of commercial motivation, but good causes have rarely sounded as good or been served as elegantly as at this gala celebration of two cornerstones of the popular song, the composer Burt Bacharach and the lyricist Hal David.

Such tribute occasions customarily produce a handful of relevant luminaries and a boot-sale of extras, but with one or two mildly windy hiccups, this one exuded both relevance and dignity. Setting it on a London stage was also entirely apposite, since both writers have acknowledged the important role played by British artists and audiences in broadening their appeal, as their tunes were amplified by Tom Jones, Sandie Shaw, Dusty Springfield and others.

A bill featuring Kenny Lynch, Sacha Distel, Linda Lewis and Edwin Starr might sound as though it belongs at the Palladium or on a where-are-they-now package tour, but each contributed to the momentum of the testimonial, as did Lucie Silvas, Lynden David Hall, Paul Carrack and the remarkably composed newcomer Sumudu Jayatilaka. Petula Clark closed the first half with an initially cautious but ultimately victorious presentation that included "Close To You" and one of David's most handsomely expressive lyrics, "A House Is Not a Home."

After the interval it fell to Bacharach's most recent collaborator, Elvis Costello, to introduce him and use his piano accompaniment for "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself." Finally Bacharach and David's keynote interpreter Dionne Warwick emerged, going some way to redeeming a lacklustre performance at Hammersmith two nights earlier, and it was time to say a little prayer for the creators of a catalogue that only grows more mighty as contemporary songwriting values grow more slovenly.