The audience burst into heartfelt applause when it was announced, before she took her seat at the grand piano, that the glamorous chanteuse who was to entertain us last night was celebrating her 39th birthday. Indeed, as she swept onto the stage in her clinging sequinned dress, with her crowning glory an enviably natural blonde, Miss Hope Springs did not look a day over … well … 39. But shortly after she began tinkling the ivories and singing the first song from her new album, the self-penned The Devil Made Me Do It, a gentleman near the front clambered over his seat and hared up the aisle towards the entrance. The seasoned trouper at the piano had a ready quip for him, but as he reached the door he called out the reason for his hasty departure – “Can’t hear!”
Nor could your reviewer. The venue for one night only, the Wigmore Hall is normally a place to hear classical music. The orchestras, choruses, string quartets and so forth who perform there do not need amplification. But amplification was provided for Miss Springs’ piano as well as her voice, and the former quite drowned out the latter. One assumes they don’t have experienced sound technicians at the Wigmore Hall. That your reviewer was not suffering from presbyacousia was confirmed when he spoke to two other members of the audience after the show. They too had experienced great difficulty in making out the lyrics, which – if they were anything like as witty as the anecdotes from her life story with which Miss Springs entertained us in between her songs – must have been witty indeed.
In a chequered career that has taken her from Las Vegas to Milton Keynes, Miss Springs has encountered (and sometimes got entangled with) numerous celebrities, such as Noel Coward, Liberace and Barry Manilow. Her charms may be riper now, but she still has what it takes to wow an audience, and despite the difficulties with the acoustics, the audience were loving it last night. The three gentlemen in the row behind me roared with laughter at every double entendre, and cheered every song to the rafters (well, the ceiling anyway). The sequinned “glamour puss” has a loyal, if not a cult, following, which includes some other celebrities. Your reviewer noticed that Fenella Fielding and Rula Lenska had come along to catch up with their fellow celeb. As she took her bow at the end of the show, members of the audience rushed to the front to shower their idol with flowers – rather in the way that Dame Edna used to be beset with gladioli.
Hope Springs is very much in the tradition of such great dames, and in the next few weeks will be taking her show to the provinces : Bath, Deal, Milton Keynes, Brighton … and back to London, at Wilton’s Music Hall. To judge by the audience reaction last night, you will be in for a risqué treat if you go – especially if they get the acoustics right!