REVIEW: Legendary songwriter Burt Bacharach wows crowds at Denbighshire music festival

Reporter:

Terry Canty

WHAT the World Needs Now Is Love was the plea from Burt Bacharach.

The legendary songwriter was the star attraction at the opening concert of this year’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod on Monday.

The easy listening king, whose hits sound-tracked the 1960s, boasts a songbook other musicians can only dream of.

In fact the 87-year-old has so many hits, 127 in both the UK and US, to his name that he could easily afford to feature two of his and songwriting partner Hal David’s biggest and best loved (Say a Little Prayer and Walk On By) in a medley, moments after taking to the stage.

Any of these classics would be reserved for encores by other acts, just kept on coming, cementing his reputation as a music legend.

Do You Know the Way to San Jose, Always Something Their to Remind Me, 24 hours from Tulsa, Trains and Boats and Planes, were brought to life during the evening by his band, an assembled group of accomplished musicians.

Josie James and Donna Taylor’s beautiful solo and blended voices, two of the three backing singers featured, took on the challenge of singing those beloved songs synonymous with artists including Dionne Warwick, and Etta James, with ease.

Even his son got in on the act supporting his father on keyboards.

In between numbers Burt, although hard to believe today, revealed that along with his canon of chart topping hits, there had been misses with the likes of My Little Red Book recorded by Manfred Man.

Others he explained, while proving successful early on in his career, he now felt detached from, these included Magic Moments and The Story of My Life, and Three Wheels on My Wagon - all not yet displaying that signature Bacharach sound we’ve all come to love.

Movie scores, if you overlook his soundtrack for Steve McQueen’s B movie sci-fi shocker The Blob, he revealed were among his favourites with the likes of the theme to Arthur, Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and the Tom Jones hit What’s New Pussycat, also proving a hit with the Llangollen audience.

But for me some of my favourite moments during this two hour music masterclass came when Bacharach himself took on vocal duties.

His rendition of Cilla Black’s Alfie and Dionne Warwick’s A House is Not a Home, with his late-life wisdom and often faltering voice served as a moving reminder of this man’s deserved place among the greats in the history of popular music.

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