James Tormé & His All Star Trio, 29, Glasgow, Friday June 27th ***
There was a touch of the Emperor’s New Clothes about Friday night’s concert at new venue, 29, a lovely supper club space on the fourth floor of the private members’ club in Royal Exchange Square. Why? Because not only was up-and-coming singer James Tormé presented and introduced as a big name (big surname, maybe) whose presence was something of a coup, but he was accompanied by an “all-star” trio, plus a saxophonist, of whom only one musician was familiar to this jazz fan, and even he would probably be the first to register surprise at his sudden promotion to star status.
Still, the audience seemed not only to buy it but to lap it up – along with everything Tormé himself threw at them. He fairly tested the patience with cheesy inter-song patter worthy of Liberace, and with his habit of striking a series of poses nonstop during his songs as if he was doing a simultaneous fashion shoot.
In Emperor’s New Clothes style, only one woman (presumably not caring if she appeared a fool), shouted out what everyone was surely thinking – “Och, you’re a right name-dropper!” – as Tormé effused endlessly about how his parents met, his father’s hit records (which he then sang) and his Scottish connection.
Can he sing? He sure can. He proved it during effortless but impressive scat solos and on unfussy ballads. He doesn’t need all the showbiz window dressing and posturing – and the over-arranged songs don’t do him many favours either.
* First published in The Scotsman on Monday, June 30th