Stevie Songs: Natalie Douglas at The Pheasantry, London.
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
Larger than life and with a husky warm glow of a voice that defies an audience not to fall in love with her straight away, Natalie Douglas’ Pheasantry debut was a delight.
The multi award-winner came across the Atlantic for this three-day visit with Stevie Songs, showcasing the writing talents of American icons Stevie Nicks and Stevie Wonder.
Time to come clean about the Fleetwood Mac vocalist, a lady often referred to as the ‘Queen of Rock‘n’Roll’ and a singer-songwriter with a huge list of hits in both spheres to her name. She just passed me by.
I now know, because they featured in Douglas’ 15-song, 90-minute set, that Nicks penned ‘Gold Dust Woman’, ‘Silver Springs’, ‘Dreams’ (Fleetwood Mac’s only US No.1), ‘Landslide’, ‘Rhiannon’ and ‘Leather and Lace’.
Douglas duetted with husband Billy Joe Young on the last one, although the poor chap could barely get a look-in against such a powerhouse partner who could make the Albert Hall shake, never mind this intimate cabaret room.
A Crazy Coqs regular since 2012, Douglas quickly made an impact at her new home, even as far as singing barefoot in the Chelsea cabaret room – a very upmarket basement as The Pheasantry is a Grade II listed building originally used to rear pheasants for the Royals.
With a giggle never far away and a fund of tales to tell (in fact, some linking material rambles a bit and could do with a polish, particularly stories about people unfamiliar to a London audience), the Douglas versions of three contrasting Wonder numbers were the pick of the session.
The slow ballad ‘All In Love Is Fair’ was a triumph of pacing and phrasing, ‘Happy Birthday’ (written in support of a campaign to have the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr become a national holiday) livened things up, and ‘The Secret Life of Plants’ “was so weird we had to put it in!”
It would be remiss not to mention the dazzling, highly energetic piano of musical director Brian Nash, a brilliant operator who acted as backing singer as well. James Kitchman’s guitar completed the group on a very happy evening.