Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs

★★★★
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Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs
Published 17 August 2016

He hasn’t quite achieved national treasure status just yet, but so well-loved is Alan Cumming for just being Alan Cumming that it’s easy to forget about the considerable talent that earned him that fame in the first place. Until you see him performing live, that is, when you realise that this a pro at work.

Cumming has selected something of a motley collection of “sappy songs” for this showcase—ranging from Katy Perry to ‘Mother Glasgow’—but almost all have a nice anecdote associated with them and, in the end, Cumming is charming enough to get away with singing anything he likes. 

He covers some surprisingly raw material in his between-song patter, including some difficult truths about his father and grandfather, creating an atmosphere of intimate familiarity that belies the ritziness and spaciousness of the performance space. He’s funny too, offering this Saturday night festival crowd some mild titillation with references to various instances of youthful—and not so youthful—naughtiness. And as you’d expect from someone who’s been knocking about in Hollywood for a while now, Cumming has some good value showbiz tales up his sleeve.

As a singer, he’s persuasive throughout – supported with considerable slickness and style by Lance Horne on piano (he also musical directs), Eleanor Norton on cello and Stuart Semple on drums. But it’s in the bigger, louder numbers that he really shines. His rendition of Avril Lavigne’s 'Complicated' is a highlight, as is his take on 'How Do Humans Live?' from Weill’s The Threepenny Opera. He starred in the show on Broadway in 2006, and was massacred by the critics for his efforts – no danger of that here.