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Anne Steele: Made Out of Stars at Live at Zedel Crazy Coqs

Anne Steele
Anne Steele

Anne Steele treats her trips to London like a lot of performers treat trips to the Edinburgh Festivals, seeing various other things that are going on whilst she’s in the capital. Her tastes are broad – taking in the musical Six as well as the stage adaptation of All About Eve, she raved about the former, telling the Crazy Coqs audience that it’s a must-see, and was generous in her assessment of the latter. She’s also been sampling London’s restaurant scene and took in an evening of new music from emerging singer-songwriters. I decided against jotting anything down into my notebook as I could immediately sense that such was the level of Steele’s engaging manner that even details such as those would be memorable.

Made Out of Stars’ is the name of Steele’s latest album, which has no title track, though all of the songs on it were performed in this concert, albeit in a different order, and sprinkled amongst them were additional songs from other artists. As tends to be the case with gigs of this nature, some of the covers were more recognisable than others, but every song was properly introduced and given as much context as was helpful.

This was especially useful during a ‘breakup mashup’ of ‘You Oughta Know’ by Alanis Morrisette and Demi Lovato’s ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ – the lyrics in both numbers were infinitely better understood against the backdrop of someone who has just ended a relationship (and not exactly on the best of terms) in the first number and in the second, that same someone who, five years on, has made their peace with the world and is ‘ready’.

The band (William TN Hall at the piano, Johnny Wells on bass and Craig Mather on guitar and drum kit) played the songs seemingly effortlessly, and Steele’s backing singers, Chelsey Chantelle and Jessica Lovelock, were, to be blunt, sublime. The concert as a whole was eclectic. Though broadly slanted in favour of happiness and positivity, Steele isn’t afraid to confront the adversities of life in her songwriting, which overall provides a very real, very human portrayal of the challenges faced by so many. Granted, some of what she sings about is firmly in the category of ‘First World Problems’, but they’re performed with first-rate assuredness and confidence.

When Steele corrected herself to say her new album wasn’t “sort of pop music” but was, fundamentally, entirely pop music, I was still intrigued. I’d ordinarily be turned off by pop. Without giving too much away, there seem to be different subgenres within pop. It’s hard (at least for me) to define what Steele’s kind of pop is, but it certainly isn’t ‘bubblegum pop’, defined in the Urban Dictionary as “cheesy, awful music made by lame bands”.

There’s nothing lame about, for instance, a cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Love’s in Need of Love Today’, and a version of the Tears for Fears song ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ was quite apt for the current socio-political climate. The show was bookended by numbers from the motion picture The Greatest Showman, with a suitably rousing finale in ‘This Is Me’. The anecdotes and good rapport with the audience contributed to a splendid (if brief) evening. But hey, leaving an audience wanting more is seldom, if ever, a bad thing. A slick performance with a warm and inviting stage presence combined to produce an unapologetically bold concert with a homely, living room ambience.

5 Star Rating

Review by Chris Omaweng

Anne Steele returns to Crazy Coqs to release her brand-new EP, Made Out Of Stars. The New York singer/songwriter and recording artist, a 3-time winner of New York’s prestigious Manhattan Association of Cabaret and Clubs (MAC) Award and a 2-time winner of New York’s Bistro and Nightlife Awards, made her critically acclaimed London cabaret debut with Welcome to the Big Top last October.

LISTINGS INFORMATION
Anne Steele:
Made Out of Stars
3rd to 4th April 2019

Live at Zedel
Crazy Coqs
20 Sherwood Street
London, W1F 7ED
https://www.brasseriezedel.com/live-at-zedel/

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