Dionne Warwick – 24th September 2018 – Gateshead Sage
By Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)
As a music photographer first and foremost, I respect the ‘first three numbers — no flash’ rule especially the latter as it can be blinding not only to the performers but also to the audience. As a music fan, I like to take away something from the night too — just a handful of photos and with respect to other paying ticket holders, I would never hold a camera/phone up too long and it seems Dionne Warwick understands the world of social media that she tells the packed Hall One of The Sage, Gateshead, that she “doesn’t mind you doing it as you’re going to do it anyway!” But namely of videos she says, “I’m singing my heart out for you…and what you’re hearing is not what your friend is going to be hearing.” This gets a rapturous applause and as the night went on, I felt myself with less urge to use the camera but THIS was Dionne Warwick SOUL LEGEND I was witnessing in the same room, that a few photos were taken.
Before the music starts Ms Warwick tells us that we will be sitting for a long time as they have put together a very long medley trying to squeeze in every song someone would want. In this ten minute or so introduction, her band tinkers away in the background and then we open with a talking version of Thank Heaven For Boys And Girls before breaking into song for Don’t Make Me Over into a chorus of Hall One signing to Walk On By. We were literally getting the ‘best of’ Dionne Warwick and it felt like a dream, even the visuals in the background added to this dreamscape as the lights were shining like roses blooming throughout different parts of a day then into a clear blue midnight sky with stars as she goes into You’ll Never Get To Heaven.
It is no wonder why Dionne Warwick has been put on that pedestal as one of the all-time greats. She has you in awe in her deliverance of so many songs that we are familiar with as hers and even some that we would associate to other greats like, B. J. Thomson’s version of Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head and Close To You which is probably most noted to The Carpenters. Then there is I Say A Little Prayer which was a huge hit for Warwick back in 1967 but also the late great Aretha Franklin and on this tour it gets a lovely reworking as a duet with her son, David, who is also the drummer in the band. Dionne’s musical genes were definitely passed through the family.
A personal highlight and a song that had me on the edge of my seat and jaw ache through smiling was Do You Know The Way To San Jose which is performed to a salsa beat as the venue lit up in a brilliant red which had some on their feet shimmying along. This vibe is later showcased with Ms Warwick herself as she sways her hips across the stage to Aquarela do Brasil. Her talent is never-ending. Warwick oozes charisma in song and in her interaction with the audience. She makes you feel part of the show. Every time the word Heartbreaker is sung (to the song of the same name) the house lights shine on the whole of Hall One and she even lets us take the lead. There are a few moments where there is personal interaction including a few comical moments when someone drops something with a big thud and she tells them to “stay out” filling the house with laughter, to a moment when an audience member calls her son ‘sexy,’ which remains a running joke throughout the night. There may have been moments of tears too and that moment came to me with I’ll Never Love This Way Again in the way it was performed. The stage goes dark. The backdrop fills with ‘glistening stars’ and Dionne Warwick is in the spotlight. The beauty of this moment left me emotionally breathless with a twinkle of a tear.
Another special moment was the introduction of her special guest, her granddaughter, Cheyenne Elliot – daughter to her drummer son David. The duets of Love Will Find A Way, Let There Be Love, What The World Needs Now and That’s What Friends Are For are not only special moments to those on stage but also to us in the audience with the latter being the perfect ending to a most special evening witnessing three generations of a special family (and band members) in a most beautiful setting.
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