Reviewed at The Crazy Coqs, London by Jonathan Baz
Four Stars ★ ★ ★ ★
London may have been sweltering under the warmest December since records began, but deep in a Piccadilly basement it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas as Gary Williams whipped up a blizzard of seasonal treats, bringing his Swingin’ Christmas show to The Crazy Coqs.
The venue was packed as the mellifluous Williams took his audience on a sleigh ride through the Songbook, in a set that ranged from a beautifully introspective River, through to a spoof on ladyboys (She’s Got That Thing). In a routine that was as informative as it was entertaining, Williams gave a potted history of Xmas No 1s. And if you’ve never done it, I cannot recommend highly enough sitting in the Crazy Coq’s Art Deco splendour, Martini in hand, singing along to Benny Hill’s Ernie (#1 in 1971 if you were wondering). As act one rounded off with a singalong White Christmas, the gig was truly becoming a most wonderful time.
Accompanied throughout by Clive Dunstall on piano, Williams worked the room effortlessly, which included managing to get the curmudgeonly yours-truly up on my feet for The Twelve Days of Christmas. Williams knows not only his songs and their writers and histories – he also understands their nuance too, though after a few more marvellous Martinis my appreciation of the night’s subtleties might have become a little fuzzy.
No matter, for I suspect the Gershwin brothers were probably chuckling in their graves at Williams gently bastardising Our Love Is Here To Stay into a Boxing Day nightmare of Your Mother’s Here To Stay.
If the evening was light-hearted, it’s heart was definitely in the right place, as favourites from across the decades pleased the crowd who were just happy to be so wittily entertained on the run in to Christmas.
I’d heard a lot about Williams’ cabaret style and he lived up to expectations. He’s back next year with a Hollywood inspired set.