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No Surrender – Upstairs at The Gatehouse – Review

Paul Bogaev is a big man with a big personality. He’s an arranger, musical director, conductor, and composer and is also the winner of an Emmy and a Grammy and he’s been nominated for a Tony. He’s worked with everyone from Elton John to Barbra Streisand and lots more in between. Currently, he’s the Musical Director for Stephen Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures at the Menier Chocolate Factory but last night with no performance of the show, he gave us his one-man show, No Surrender – his interpretations of the songs of fellow Americans – Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits.

Paul Bogaev Master Class 10.18.23. Klein Photo by Chad Anderson Photography.
Paul Bogaev Master Class 10.18.23. Klein Photo by Chad Anderson Photography.

In a sold-out Above The Gatehouse in Highgate, Bogaev regaled the audience with not only the songs of these two icons of rock music but also personal stories that made for an enthralling evening. Bogaev told of the link between his father, an esteemed urologist, a Philadelphia mobster the “Chicken Man” and Springsteen and also how not to buy a used car amongst other American tales.

The evening started with a few bars of Aaron Copeland’s “Fanfare For The Common Man” which segued into Springsteen’s “Born In The USA” before the first song of the night, the title of the show “No Surrender”. Strangely this was combined with Ed Sheeran’s “Castle On The Hill” – an odd choice considering the theme of the show and the only misstep of the evening.

During the next eighty minutes or so, Bogaev gave us his versions of around fourteen songs from the two singer-songwriters although the majority were from Springsteen and considering Bogaev’s voice is nearer Springsteen’s than Waits (which Bogaev described as sounding line “an ashtray”, it might have made for a more thematic evening if he’s just sung songs from “The Boss”. He’s a big fan of New Jersey’s finest son and is even going to teach classes in Springsteen at Princeton University – which is situated in that state!

Bogaev chose well singing such stalwarts as “Atlantic City”, I’m On Fire”, “She’s The One”, “Jersey Girl”, “Spirit In The Night” and “Invitation To The Blues”. He also sang a tongue-twisting medley of the girl’s names in Springsteen songs that Danny Kaye (look him up) would be proud of. As Bogaev said all the songs told stories and were theatrical and cinematic in scope and coming from a theatre and cinema background, he gave them the full treatment even though it was just him and a piano. Speaking of which Bogaev is a master of the instrument and if Roy Bittan (Springsteen’s long-time piano player), ever fancies a night off, then Bogaev could step in seamlessly.

Unfortunately, this superb show was a one-off as Pacific Overtures doesn’t do a Monday show and Bogaev had a rest from his day (should that be night?) job. I spoke to him after the show and he said if I gave it a 6* review, he might do it again but as we’re only allowed to give a maximum of 5*, I’ll have to stick with that but maybe even that will tempt him – if it does and you’re a fan of Springsteen and Waits, make sure you’re there.

5 Star Rating + 1 star

Review by Alan Fitter

For one night only, Grammy and Emmy Award Winning musician Paul Bogaev presents an evening of songs from legendary songwriters Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits.

Featuring classics like THUNDER ROAD and NO SURRENDER, Paul inhabits the rich, complex characters at the heart of these quintessentially American narratives, bringing them to life in performance.

Paul is currently Musical Director of the highly-acclaimed revival of Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures at the Menier Chocolate Factory.



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