Stacy Sullivan at Crazy Coqs, W1
The London Times
By Clive Davis
How can an homage to the great Peggy Lee not make room for Why Don’t You Do Right? and Is That All There is? It’s a measure of the late star’s enigmatic persona that Stacy Sullivan’s show manages nicely enough without those two evergreens.
Lee died a decade ago after a reign that was as long as Frank Sinatra’s, and has already been the subject of a bold one-woman show-cum-play starring our own Kate Dimbleby. Sullivan — the sister of American diva KT Sullivan — has devised a tribute that is more conventional but no less engrossing.
A commanding, willowy presence, she captures that rare combination of vulnerability and worldliness. Her voice is sometimes flintier than Lee’s, but when singing ballads the resemblance is often startling. And she captures her understated eroticism too. At one point she demonstrates how Lee, fighting her nerves during a TV appearance and embarrassed about her large “farmer’s hands”, adopted a static pose that was actually more expressive than many a Lady Gaga dance routine.
Her accomplishments as a songwriter are amply illustrated. Generations of children have come to love He’s a Tramp — the subject of a celebrated legal dispute with the Disney corporation. And it’s good to be reminded of her other credits, including I Love Being Here With You, a number that has long been a staple of Diana Krall’s live shows.
The pianist Jon Weber and bassist Steve Doyle make light work of the ultra-sophisticated arrangements. Sullivan doesn’t dwell on Lee’s unhappy marriage to the guitarist Dave Barbour, but points up the autobiographical element to the lyrics to Johnny Guitar. She wants us to see Lee as a woman of our times, not just a songbird. Mission Accomplished.