Michael Feinstein at Cadogan Hall

The American singer and pianist's 32-song journey through the Great American Songbook was a gas and a half

Singer and pianist Michael Feinstein

Recently in these pages I trailed Michael Feinstein’s brief – four concerts over one long weekend – UK tour and I write this account having just returned from the fourth and last performance at London’s Cadogan Hall. It was just short of capacity and, judging by the reaction, every single member of the audience was a Feinstein buff.

Mr. Feinstein’s stock-in-trade is The Great American Songbook, a volume I myself have devoured from cover to cover and relished every page. You could say that turning me loose on an event like this was a marriage made in Tin Pan Alley.

I had one reservation based on seeing Mr. Feinstein in concert a good 30 years ago and that was the voice which, at that time, was a blend of Johnny Mathis and Tiny Tim, but that was then and now is now and now the voice, if not quite in the Billy Eckstine – Johnny Hartman ballpark is getting there – via Andy Williams.

The evening was a success from minute one and my only regret is that I can’t award it the 10 stars it deserved (JJ doesn’t award stars to live events). Feinstein has come on by leaps and bounds as a performer and has the audience eating out of his hand whilst firmly under his thumb; quite a trick whichever way you slice it.

In two shimmering sets he laid some 32 numbers on us, culminating in a round dozen medley of Sinatra signature songs. The accompanying trio – Kennedy Aitchison (p), Don Richardson (b) and James Powell (d) – was outstanding, one minute swinging like the clappers, the next as delicate as a snowflake.

The songstack was impeccable, as one would expect from this performer and you will, I venture to say, go a long way before you’ll hear You Belong To Me and Is You Is, Or Is You Ain’t My Baby in the same set. The Great American Songbook is known affectionately and informally as GAS and this reading of it by Feinstein was, in the equally informal vernacular of Francis Albert Sinatra, a gas and a half, as testified by the standing ovation. Here’s to the next tour.

Michael Feinstein at Cadogan Hall, Sloane Terrace, Chelsea, 25 October 2021