David McAlmont @ Jazz Cafe 22/08/06

David McAlmont is blessed with one of the finest and most distinctive voices of the last couple of decades. I say this not as a debating point…just a statement of fact. His soaring falsetto is equally at home on any style from bond themes, indie or dance through to the jazz standards on his latest album “Set One – You Go to My Head” which this gig promotes. He is quite simply something special.

The audience appears to made up of a mixture of die hard McAlmont fans, and a large contingent of McAlmont AND Butler devotees tempted along by the promise of the worst kept secret “guest” in gigging history, Bernard Butler. Bernard is however kept under wraps for the encore, with the main show featuring David’s take on a range of classic songs almost all of which were originally penned from a female perspective.

David in full voice

Its great covering tracks originally recorded by people like Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday, because you’ve got nothing to lose” says McAlmont introducing a classic but ignoring the evidence of jazz hobbit Jamie Cullam, and Robbie Williams who’s own crooned covers album caused many to swing while they were listening. If youre going to cover the greats… you’d better not be ordinary.

The first track of the evening “Night & Day” has in recent years been sullied by Bono and co, but tonight its exquisite. A fantastic laid back double bass groove allows McAlmont to deliver the lyrics as if they were his own.

Made famous by Whitney “Saving All My Love For You” is also delivered with panache, where a more mundane voice would run the risk of sounding karaoke like, here you momentarily forget the originals.

Theres even time for a bit of root vegetable and sweetmeat based innuendo courtesy of Bessie Smiths 1929 saucefest “Kitchen Man“. McAlmont takes great delight in the hilariously suggestive lyrics, “When I eat his donuts” he winks “all I leave is the hole, anytime he wants to, why, he can use my sugar bowl.” A little bit too much detail you might say 🙂 but the pinker section of the crowd love it, and everyone else myself included creases up in laughter. Fantastic stuff.

So confident and assured is McAlmont that at one point he mistakenly sings the lyrics to one song over the top of another, realising his mistake he laughingly concedes that it was all going so well he was getting a little cocky. “I always do that, just as things look fantastic, I get carried away and it all goes wrong… right David modest, humble“.

And so for the encore and the evenings “surprise” guest… Bernard Butler takes to the stage for a timely reuniting, with the pair having just released a limited edition single “Speed“. It was was originally recorded in 2003, one of two tracks that EMI agreed to pay them to do, even though they were about to drop them. Listening to it tonight even stripped back and acoustic its difficult not to wonder exactly how a track as sumptuous as this can find itself unwanted by any label.

To an ecstatic response the pair play four songs, including “Falling“, and “Tonight” a classic from their 1995 debut album. David introduces the never recorded “Goodbye” as one of the songs EMI said they didn’t want. He mutters about how terribly they were treated, particularly by one person who he best be quiet about… Butler by his side more succinctly declares that “the guy was a total wanker”.

Predictably the night ends with a new version of their most famous track “Yes“, played in a more languid style, with bluesy guitar from Bernard. There isn’t even a drummer until mid song when Andy Gangadeen sits down at the kit, and the song launches off into its full majesty.
However unlikely a full time return seems you can only hope that this isn’t the last time we see the pair on stage together. They may have endured quarrels, and record company bullshit but both must know that together they make a glorious glorious sound, and that must be hard to close the door on forever.

David McAlmont Myspace / McAlmont & Butler Myspace

Listen:

McAlmont & Butler – “You’ll Lose A Good Thing” (MP3)

David McAlmont – “Lose My Faith” (MP3)

David McAlmont – “Night & Day” (MP3)

McAlmont & Butler live on BBC 6music: mp3’s over on “The Daily Growl”

Buy:

McAlmont & Butler – Speed (new single) itunes / limited 7″

David McAlmont – “Set One – You Go To My Head” from Amazon

Pics: David McAlmont @ The Jazz Cafe 21/08/06 (My flickr set)

Watch:

Great videos from the night courtesy of The Cygnet on YouTube.

McAlmont & Butler – “Speed (Live @ Jazz Cafe)” (YouTube)

McAlmont & Butler – “Yes (Live @ Jazz Cafe)” (YouTube)

McAlmont & Butler – “Tonight (Live @ The Jazz Cafe)” (YouTube)

David McAlmont – “Night & Day (Live @ Jazz Cafe)” (YouTube)

David McAlmont – “Kitchen Man (Live @ Jazz Cafe)” (YouTube)

Loads more videos on his YouTube page here.