Review: Back To Bacharach, St David’s Hall, Cardiff

Andy Howells reviews the music spectacular, Back To Bacharach at Cardiff’s St David’s Hall.

In our lifetimes, we all form a special bond with music. Certain songs or tunes connect with us and ultimately begin to form a personal soundtrack to our lives.

For me, I’d certainly say one of the major contributors to my life’s personal soundtrack is Burt Bacharach.  My life began in the last 18 months of the 1960s and I certainly associate the soundtrack of my early years with songs such a Bobbie Gentry’s recording of I’ll Never Fall In Love Again and Tom Jones’ What’s New Pussycat? a song which my Dad would try and sing to me but would ultimately make me giggle. I didn’t know it at the time, but this along with many others were all from the Burt Bacharach and Hal David songbook.

A touring show entitled Back to Bacharach, celebrating Bacharach’s 6-decade song writing career including his collaborations with Hal David and Carole Beyer Sagar reached its Welsh destination of Cardiff’s St David Hall on Saturday evening.

Produced by guitarist Andy Meredith, the Back to Bacharach show features the vocal talents of Martin Neely, Arabella Rodrigo, Chloe Du Pre and Jina Burrows backed by the 8 strong Back To Bacharach Orchestra.

The show encompasses a rich and diverse palette from the Bacharach portfolio including the singalong playfulness of Magic Moments and The Story of My Life via film themes from Wives & Lovers, Alfie and Arthur to unforgettable hits such as The Look of Love and Walk On By.

Martin Neely wowed the audience with greats such as Make it Easy On Yourself,and My Little Red Book while duetting with his new wife Arabella Rodrigo on On My Own, ironically and jokingly a song about a couple splitting up. 

A fabulous stage presence, Arabella also displayed a wide vocal range, doing justice to the high notes achieved by Cilla Black on Anyone Who Had a Heart and Alfie while breathing new life into the soulful Don’t Make Me Over.

Chloe Du Pre, a talented vocalist and musician, shined at several points during the evening, particularly with a magical rendition of Dusty Springfield’s hit I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself and an Elvis rarity, Keep Me In Mind. Chloe also showed her talent as a musician when she took to the piano to perform a beautiful rendition of A House Is Not A Home. Certainly, a singer I would love to hear again and again.

Jina Burrows magically recreated several hits popularised by Dionne Warwick including Trains and Boats and Planes and Do You Know the Way to San Jose? As well as the Aretha Franklin classic I Say a Little Prayer.

Of course, to achieve the perfect full Bacharach live experience, you need strong accompaniment and that’s exactly what the Back to Bacharach Orchestra provided. Led by Musical Director David Foster on piano, tracks such as the brass led This Guy’s in Love with You and What the World Needs Now Is Love get the authentic Bacharach treatment. 

A feelgood show with an excellent soundtrack that never dates, Back to Bacharach is performed with heartfelt passion, energy and meaning, exactly as the songs were originally intended.

Don’t miss an opportunity to catch this show when it comes to a venue near you. it’s so much more than a tribute!

Review revised and archived: June 2022