Pizza Express,Brindley Place, Birmingham
Wonderful night at Pizza Express in Birmingham watching Dean Friedman. Not a name on many people’s lips. Possibly remembered for some quirky songs nearly 40 years ago.
But this guy is not just a one-hit-wonder. He composed loads of great songs. He teaches songwriting and conducts workshops.
He comes on and plays acoustic guitar with a very polished and nuanced hybrid picking style. At 61, his voice has lost none of its richness and range.
His repartee between each song is witty. He embroiders each song with a tale – the evolution of McDonalds Girl into a YouTube hit and its eventual adoption 30 years later by the eponymous brand; the tale of Half Man Half Biscuit’s “Bastard Son Of Dean Friedman”, which is followed by his song about HMHB’s Nigel Blackwell entitled “A Baker’s Tale” ‘explaining’ Nigel’s birth.
He moves to piano and reveals a style rich in both jazz and classical training. The songs are well constructed, literate and funny.
He plays all the favourites – “Ariel”, “Rocking Chair” , ” Shopping Bag Ladies”, “Woman Of Mine”, and many more, including a very Randy Newmanesque “Death To The Neighbours”.
He leaves us with “Lucky Stars”, completely sung by the whole audience including all the ‘asides’. A fans’ love-in.
The food and drink was from the standard menu, table service. Ideal and intimate venue for Jazz and acoustic music.
We had front row seats too ! A fantastic and heart-warming night, not just for the performance, but because of the warmth of the audience too.
Mostly middle-aged, but several had brought their children with them (mainly teens and older).
It made me think..
Musicianship and artistry doesn’t disappear if you have a few hits. If you continue to work, it grows to something that needs to be cherished.