Madalena Alberto at Live At Zédel, London.
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
Not even Storm Doris could keep them away from Madalena Alberto’s one-nighter at Piccadilly nightspot Live At Zédel, even if it did leave her percussionist stranded in Manchester.
The strong-voiced Portuguese songbird has a growing reputation in musical theatre and her Eva Peron in the 2014 national tour followed by six weeks in the West End at the Dominion was a triumph. Plenty have had a go at Evita but few have done it as well.
Her medley of hits from that show, punctuated by a fit of the giggles before ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’, was a reminder of just how many great songs the noble Lord and Sir Tim collaborated on in their pomp. Evita remains for many their finest achievement and is still packing them in.
Alberto has also played Grizabella in Cats at the Palladium and Edith Piaf in Pam Gems’ musical play at Leicester Curve, as well as Fantine in the 25th anniversary production of Les Mis, and she harkened back to those career highlights with ‘Memory’ and ‘Padam, Padam’.
But nothing suited her voice better than Amanda McBroom’s wistful ‘The Portrait’ – ‘Mama don’t leave me, Mama don’t go/You know the answers to all I don’t know’.
In a thoughtful and always interesting programme, there was much that was unfamiliar too as she bookended the 90-minute set with a pair of songs in her own language, as well as explaining that her self-penned composition ‘Windbreaker’ was inspired by surfing rather than a bodily function!
Doris Day might have struggled to recognise a jazzy version of her 1956 chart-topper ‘Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)’ and a duet with EastEnders actress Maddy Hill on Lana Del Rey’s ‘Summertime Sadness’ was another unexpected highlight.
Alberto can belt with the best (at times maybe a bit too much power for such a small space) but has a delicate touch on the quieter ones too.
A bit nervous and flustered in her between-songs storytelling, she did not always come across as a cabaret natural – worrying about which guests and audience were going to turn up after the freak weather wouldn’t have helped – but she winged it to the end for a standing ovation.
Miguel Tejada played a blinder on piano and Ashley de Neef’s bass also lent fine support on a very different evening that was never less than enjoyable.