Born in Wolverhampton, Richard Shelton was a long way from home on Tuesday evening at Crazy Coqs, both geographically and metaphorically, as he deftly guided a spellbound audience through his time as an Englishman in love in LA., just as it states on the tin.
In Hollywood they say about certain actors that “the camera loves him/her” meaning that over and above any talent involved the camera finds them irresistible and it’s the same with Richard Shelton; no matter how many times he deviates from a lyric the audience can’t get enough of him.
Witness Tuesday’s performance: showtime was 7pm, and they had the rope up by 6.50; if Crazy Coqs had rafters there’d be standees hanging from them. With only a piano (Mike Gorman), and string bass (Julie Walkington) to aid and abet him he contrived to make a small space – what the French call intime – feel like the Hollywood Bowl, with The Boston Pops complementing the vocal cords.
Personally, I was delighted that 15 of the 20 numbers were well within reach of a telegram from the King, which makes them something of an endangered species in the cultural wilderness which holds sway. The show derives from Shelton’s 2020 big-band album An Englishman In Love In LA, recorded at the hallowed Capitol Studios with a band including some of Frank Sinatra’s surviving bandmates.
It was clear that the audience were familiar with his award-winning show Sinatra: Raw, for when he invited requests from the floor every title was closely associated with Old Blue Eyes, and he clearly got a boot out of obliging.
In sum: this is the kind of show that should be taught in schools, as a reminder that Popular Music is not just ugh-wella-wella in front of a three-chord trick.
Richard Shelton: An Englishman In Love In LA, Crazy Coqs, Sherwood Street, London W1, 28 November 2023