Elaine Paige

State Theatre, December 5

Paige resCritics beware: skewer Elaine Paige at your peril, especially if you suffer from insomnia. Your sleeplessness may be haunted by the memory of Memory on endless repeat. Such cruel revenge!

It was, therefore, a relief that this concert was a vast improvement over Paige’s 2012 performance in the same venue. Having Tommy Fleming begin the show allowed her to just sing one set rather than two, which meant she could focus on her best material and immediately open the throttles of her potent voice, rather than cosseting it for a while. It also suited her better to be accompanied by a string orchestra and rhythm section rather than just a band.

She blasted into action with Come Rain Or Come Shine, and even if the ensuing Luck Be A Lady was not quite as convincing, both songs showed off the effectiveness of her collision of effervescence and vocal power. Summertime featured an imaginative arrangement, but her delivery missed the sultry tone required, and it was one of several songs to be sheared in half, whether out of kindness to her voice or to squeeze more tunes into the show. I Get A Kick Out Of You was bump-and-grind fun, even if she lacked the jazzy sensibilities to nail the slingshot phrasing, and Non, je ne regrette rien proudly held the Piaf torch aloft.

The fact that I Know Him So Well (from Chess) was a hit merely proves you can fool most of the people some of the time, but then she wheeled out the really big guns. Don’t Cry for Me Argentina was vast, Hymne a l’amour (If You Love Me) bigger still, and Memory had the State Theatre’s seams starting to gape. With One Look (from Sunset Boulevard) appropriately ended a show celebrating her 50 years in the business.

Fleming provided a pleasant enough preface, working up his own overwrought climaxes on the likes of You’ll Never Walk Alone and Bridge Over Troubled Water.