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Review: SOHO SONGS, Crazy Coqs

Soho, with its dubious, delicious days and naughty, nasty nights captured beautifully in words and music

Review: SOHO SONGS, Crazy Coqs Review: SOHO SONGS, Crazy Coqs To the most demi-mondeish venue in London (not the clientele, absolument, but the ambience) for a show dedicated to London's very own demi-monde district, Soho. Or, to be more specific, to Soho in the dying days of its authentic demi-monde frisson, before the brands, the buyouts and the bohemianism (corporate style) took over.

Barb Jungr and Mike Lindup conjure that unique flavour in a song cycle that pulled memory after memory from my mind - the squalor and the glitz, the alienation and the cameraderie, the despair and the hope. The academics would call it a liminal space, always on the edge of light turning to dark (usually on descending or ascending a staircase); of the legit becoming dodgy; of life dissolving into death. It was irresistible to outsiders, those who didn't really fit in anywhere, but could find solidarity with the misfits; with those looking for creativity unfettered by cash; for those for whom transgression was temptation to be indulged.

The songs catch these people, these moods, these dangers with detail after detail, with and wisdom. "Nice Girls Shouldn't Go To Soho" is very "Yes Sir I Can Boogie" - you can work the message out for yourself. "Kit On Kit Off" is the tale of a pole dancer with a kid at home. "Bouncer Man" takes us into the heads of the private security guards who have duboius pasts and a definitive stance towards anyone who wants to try it on. You half expect Jeffrey Bernard or Francis Bacon to lurch, glass-in-hand, on to the stage at any moment.

Listening, transfixed by the four splendid singers (Lucinda Lawrence, Robbie Noonan, Nate Rogers and Kat Johns-Burke) I found myself thinking of Tony Newley, of Lionel Bart (particularly his early show Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'be) and even of Kurt Weill. With bloody Covid, this was the first staging of the cycle and there were times when the show was a bit rough and ready, but the band (Mark Edwards, Arnie Somogyi and Darren Beckett) were tight and the atmosphere perfect.

Soho is not quite like 'Nam ("You had to be there, man") but it helps. And if you were lucky enough to be at Ronnie's for George at Christmas, upstairs at Braganza for a very long lunch or two and at Maison Bertaux for breakfast - on the way home as often as on the way out - well, you can't spend an hour more filled with one of those bittersweet pleasures that only advancing age can bring. An opportunity to look back on happy, happy days with the very best version of yourself and your friends (some are here and some are missing) in mind.

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From This Author - Gary Naylor