Friday 24 February 2012

Randy Newman at The Sage, Gateshead - review by Terry Kelly

Randy Newman
The Sage Gateshead

FOR many people, Randy Newman is simply the man who provided the scores for the highly popular Toy Story film series.

But for his appearance at The Sage, Newman touched most of the bases in his highly various songwriting career, from the 1960s to his movie soundtracks and most recent studio albums.

Seated at an imposing grand piano - Newman congratulating the venue for its sound - the 68-year-old son of Los Angeles delighted his Tyneside fans with a rich musical retrospective, stretching way back to his first studio outing in 1968, with songs like Living Without You and the peerless classic I Think It's Going to Rain Today.

There was a nod to Jarrow lad Alan Price, who Newman called "a hometown boy," before launching into Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear, a hit for the former Animal.

Early highlights included the haunting Bad News from Home and Jolly Coppers on Parade, but it was the second half which saw Newman banish some of his early tour nerves and really hit his stride.

Louisiana 1927 and Rednecks, both from his finest album, 1974's Good Old Boys, were brilliant, but I Miss You, a bitter-sweet love song to Newman's ex-wife, stole the show.

A soothing Feels Like Home was a well-earned encore to a night with a musical master.

Terry Kelly

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