Unexpectedly I found myself spending my Sunday in a an old familiar part of London just round the corner from Oxford Circus. The London Palladium is a fine old theatre taking pride of place on one of the capital’s shortest arteries, Argyle Street.
I’ve probably passed it more often than been present but, from memory, have spent a few nights there. One of the last times was when I coaxed my youngest child (a boy of 6) to enjoy a night at ‘The Sound of Music’ with the rest of the family. He was a little sceptical about how much he’d enjoy it. ‘Don’t worry,’ I offered,’ There are are soldiers in this show.’ I knew it had been too much importance placed on it when, deep into the musical and not a uniform had darkened the stage and just as Mother Superior was at the height of her aria, ‘Climb Every Mountain’ a low, young voice from row F moaned…’When are the soldiers coming on?’
It’s a playhouse that, in my experience, seems to lend itself to unexpected audience participation. The previous time we’d tried to inflict a musical on the boy he’d been 2 and had found the appearance of the car in ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ just too exciting. When he wouldn’t be quiet my wife was forced to take him home for an early bath. Years earlier I’d made my first visit to the palace of variety to see one of my favourite artists for the very first time. Randy Newman’s gig was going well until just before ‘Rider In The Rain’ when a rather disgruntled metropolitan type got himself into, what can only be described as a ankle. ‘Why don’t you do some new songs?’ he shouted at a bemused Randy. The singer carried on seamlessly and did a complete version of Rider with singalong included. The heckler meantime had got himself in such a fizz that he’d left his seat and stormed out of the stalls swing doors leaving a rather cold draft behind him. Cue Randy: ‘It kinda cracks me up to do this after what that asshole said but…here’s a new song.’
Master of song, master of comedy and master of perfect timing Randy didn’t disappoint me this weekend as I thought about this back-stage in The Palladium and I leafed through the Sundays to discover that he’s coming to Scotland later in the year. It’s time we had a Randy Newman moment on the show and I will play you one and another singer who’s definitely listened to Randy in her lifetime. Look out for a new artist as we play you a new song from Angaleena Presley this week.
We’ll also have some new music from Tom Russell and The Fairfield Four which, it it doesn’t get you in the right mood for Holy Week will certainly stir your soul.
And, if that is not enough, we will welcome our very special guests Lady Antebellum. Recent visitors to Scotland, massively successful and purveyors of great, harmony driven modern-country Lady A are now on their 6th album. There aren’t many ‘groups’ on Music Row but Lady A manage to combine the intimacy of the country voice with a younger audience’s need to feel like their country acts have been listening to some of their own record collections. We caught up with the band before their hugely successful concert at Glasgow’s Armadillo last month. Join us on Tuesday to hear that conversation and a selection of some great music from their current album 747 and much more too. Join us live this Tuesday evening from 9 on BBC Radio Scotland.
I’ll be on air this Sunday too when I am excited to tell you my special guest is film composer Patrick Doyle. His CV is so massive that i can’t include it all here but if you’ve seen Carlitto’s Way, Much Ado About Nothing, Brave and now Disney’s latest much-lauded Cinderella you’ll know Pat’s music.
As it is Easter Sunday we will spend some time thinking about heaven with some people who have allowed themselves to read and think creatively on the subject. In case you didn’t know we are on air from 10 this Sunday morning on BBC Radio Scotland.