David McAlmont

Live from Leicester Square

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Famed for his piano-draping white catsuit appearance in David Arnold's "Diamonds Are Forever" promo video, as well as his rather tempestuous musical partnership with Bernard Butler, it's not difficult to see why David McAlmont's off-the-field activities have often overshadowed his immense soulful talents. Which is a shame, as by rights, his breathtaking and completely individual three-octave vocal range is entitled to be held in the same regard as legends such as the likes of Al Green, Sam Cooke, and Marvin Gaye. He might not have achieved anywhere near the same success as his musical inspirations, but McAlmont has still managed to retain a small but dedicated following over a hugely eventful and collaborative career, as evident from the receptive sell-out crowd at this one-off performance at London's Leicester Square Theatre. Backed by pianist Guy Davies, McAlmont's first live album offers 15 acoustic and intimate performances of both his most iconic tracks and some fan-friendly obscurities, from "Placed Aside," a 1992 B-side from his short-lived duo Thieves' debut single, and "Through the Door" right up to "Secrets, Accusations and Charges," the standout from The Glare, his 2009 album with composer Michael Nyman. Showcasing his astonishingly versatile voice, McAlmont effortlessly switches from brassy powerhouse diva, as on a rendition of the Great American Songbook standard "Blues in the Night," to understated soulman, as on the gorgeous self-penned ballad "Lose My Faith." Classy reworkings of Babes in Arms show tune "My Funny Valentine," Shirley Bassey's "Never Never Never," and the Bacharach/David-penned "I'm a Better Man" highlight McAlmont's impressive ability to adapt almost any other artist's work. However, for any listeners who grew up in the era of Brit-pop, it's the appearance of former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler that will provide the most unadulterated joy, especially considering that McAlmont & Butler never toured in their mid-90s heyday. The bombastic Wall of Sound-esque guitar pop of "Yes," arguably one of the finest singles of the decade, may be completely stripped down, but it loses none of its mesmerizing magic, nor does their bluesy interpretations on their two other Top 30 singles, "Falling" and "You Do." Always engaging and often spellbinding, Live from Leicester Square is an affectionate and unique celebration of a sorely underrated 18-year career.

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