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Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA September 22, 2016

Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes

suede-cabaret-scenes-magazine_212Suede last played San Francisco eight years ago. After experiencing her superb Feinstein’s debut, I’d say that’s way too long a delay. She likes to jump right in and get down and dirty. She lays into a bluesy cover of “Let’s Get Away for the Weekend” (Al Anderson/Bob DiPiero/Miles Zuniga), grabbing her trusty muted trumpet for a tasty turn. With her bubbly, energetic, larger-than-life persona, Suede grabs you by the lapels and doesn’t let go. She takes the macho Frank Sinatra number “I Like to Lead When I Dance” (Jimmy Van Heusen/Sammy Cahn), flips it on its ear, and makes it an assured lesbian theme song. Showing off her growling blues vocals, she dives into a fresh version of “Teach Me Tonight” (Cahn/Gene De Paul), building to big finish.

A lovely, sensitive handling of Oscar Levant and Edward Heyman’s “Blame It on My Youth” shows the sensitive side of Suede, a lovely balance to her bawdy, high energy style. She accompanied herself on her Martin acoustic guitar on a poignant song about a longtime relationship and the ravages of Alzheimer’s on “Emily Remembers,” following that with another moving moment with Leonard Cohen’s haunting “Hallelujah.” She was smart to choose local jazz pianist John R. Burr as her accompanist. He has a gift for pushing vocalists to an even higher level.

A mid-tempo arrangement of the typically laidback “Here’s to Life” surprises, and she puts it all out there with her blues-driven riff on “Dangerous Mood” (Candy Parton & Keb Mo [Kevin Moore]) from her self-titled 2008 CD. The “bedroom blues” sees Suede scatting like a seasoned jazz diva while singing like B.B. King. A Suede show is a family affair; there’s an intimacy and connection that is genuinely authentic and endearing.  A thoroughly enjoyable show by a seasoned pro!

Steve Murray

Always interested in the arts, Steve was encouraged to begin producing and, in 1998, staged four, one-man vehicles starring San Francisco's most gifted performers. In 1999, he began the Viva Variety series, a live stage show with a threefold mission to highlight, support, and encourage gay and gay-friendly art in all the performance forms, to entertain and document the shows, and to contribute to the community by donating proceeds to local non-profits. The shows utilized the old variety show style popularized by his childhood idol Ed Sullivan. He’s produced over 150 successful shows, including parodies of Bette Davis’s gothic melodramedy Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte and Joan Crawford’s very awful Trog. He joined Cabaret Scenes 2007 and enjoys the writing and relationships he’s built with very talented performers.