During the recent pandemic lockdown, singer Melissa Errico found herself with time on her hands. Her children were homeschooling and her husband (Patrick McEnroe, brother of John) was quarantined in the basement with covid. So Errico turned to those iconic black and white film noir movies of the forties and fifties for comfort and realised that the songs associated with those films could be turned into an album and as soon as lockdown was over, she went into the studio and recorded Out Of The Dark: The Film Noir Project. Then last night as part of the promotion for the album, Errico started a three-night residency at London’s best cabaret room, The Crazy Coqs.
Dressed in a figure-hugging, black sequined dress showing just the right amount of décolletage, with a hairstyle that was part Rita Hayworth, part Veronica Lake, Errico certainly looked the part and The Crazy Coqs was the perfect setting for her 80-minute set. With its black and white art deco styling and only a red curtain at the back of the stage to give the room some colour, you felt that you were in a smoky bar (thankfully without the smoke) somewhere on New York’s 52nd street back in the day. The almost monochrome theme was further enhanced by Errico’s four backing musicians, all men in black.
During the set, Errico sang most of the songs on the album but also included some songs specially composed for the show by David Shire and Adam Gopnik which slotted in seamlessly and sounded as if they could have been written during film noir’s heyday. Errico who’s a renowned interpreter of Stephen Sondheim’s work also gave us one of his songs, “Sooner Or Later” (from the noirish movie “Dick Tracy”) although her accompanying herself on the ukulele distracted a little from her performance as she tried hard to find the right chords!
Superbly backed by her quartet (all taking time away from Ronnie Scott’s superb band) with the standouts being Graeme Blevins on various woodwinds giving the mainly smoky ballads some rich colour and musical director Tedd Firth splendid on piano, they allowed Errico’s wonderful, expressive crystalline voice to shine through and soar. Errico is a Tony-nominated, Broadway star having appeared in a number of shows including My Fair Lady and High Society and her acting talents allowed her to be transformed into the epitome of a film noir chanteuse. Errico has an engaging personality, tells delightful anecdotes and had the sold-out cabaret room eating out of her hand.
If Out Of The Dark: The Film Noir Project sounds like your kind of thing, you may not have time to see Melissa Errico in the flesh but the album is now available and whilst it’s not the same as seeing a live show, it’s a very fine substitute.
Review by Alan Fitter
Melissa Errico’s recording “Out Of The Dark: The Film Noir Project” brings together all of those threads in a single masterly sequence, a song cycle that offers an unforgettably sexy, sensual, and sophisticated arc, all black-velvet piano and vibraphone tones, telling a complete story of hope, despair, and hope renewed. In no sense a retro project, her choices reach from noir classics, like Laura and The Bad and The Beautiful, into the French chansons of the fifties and sixties, and includes the debut of four entirely new songs, by Michel Legrand, David Shire, and the late Peter Foley, all with arrangements by her musical director, pianist Tedd Firth.
Errico’s dream was to paint a picture of an era now made mythological – the world of the 52nd Street jazz club, of the doomed and unfathomable chanteuse, of nightclub gangsters and exiled French poets – that would somehow speak to today’s condition. “Did you ever have the feeling that the world has gone and left you behind?” she sings in the rarely recorded verse of Matt Dennis’ “Angel Eyes” – and at a time when that feeling has become so universal, she sends us back into the past and forward into the future to affirm, as one new song suggests, that “darkness is all we have to show the shapes that light can make.”
1. Angel Eyes
2. With Every Breath I Take
3. It Was Written In The Stars
4. The Bad and the Beautiful
5. Haunted Heart
6. Amour, Amour
7. Silent Partner
8. Farewell, My Lovely
2. Blame It On My Youth
3. Checking My Heart
4. On Vit, On Aime
6. The Man That Got Away
7. Detour Ahead
8. Shadows And Light
Guido Alfredo Delgado says
My wife and I throughly agree with you. It was scintillatingly wonderful performance. I didn’t know her before last night, I must admit. She’s now in my “must-follow” performers.