Dean Friedman, Shinfield Players Theatre, 12th May 2018 – Thank your Lucky Stars

I don’t think that I have ever been able to walk from my house to a gig before, well not since I was at university perhaps. But last night we were able to do just that as we went to see Dean Friedman live at Shinfield Players Theatre. It seemed like an odd choice of venue but I wasn’t complaining as it was nice and close.

When you mention Dean Friedman to people (in the UK at least) they almost always remember the hit single Lucky Stars which topped at #3 in 1978. Friedman said that in his native US he is more known as the Million Matzoh Balls man. Which just goes to show how some music appeals to one market and not to others. It also goes someway to explain why Friedman is doing such a long tour in the UK.

Audiences are a funny lot. I always seem to be seated behind the tallest man, with the biggest head and so it was last night. Worse still was that the couple insisted in talking. I would have told them to shut up but as previously recorded he was much bigger than me. Anyway at one point the woman said to the man “Are you enjoying this, do you want to leave?” My heart soared and I got really excited when he got up and went. Unfortunately it must have just been a loo break and he returned all too soon. I spent the rest of the show with my head at right angles to my body.

The couple behind me were also chatterboxes (if people want a good conversation why don’t they fuck off down the pub or stay at home?). They also clearly hadn’t been to many gigs. The bloke was complaining that Friedman played no songs that he knew in the first half – “should’ve started with Lydia” was his considered opinion. How that would have worked I’m not sure given that the whole point of the gig was that it was the 40th anniversary of “Well Well Said the Rocking Chair” and Lydia is the 7th track…

Anyway, back to the music. Friedman reminds me of a cross between James Taylor and Richard Stilgoe, taking the smooth music from Taylor and the wit from Stilgoe. But where Friedman really made the night for me was in the stories he told between the songs. These were almost always related to the next song in some way and really helped to put it in context. Hearing the lyrics when you know the back story is just great.

It was a very enjoyable evening so much so that we intend to book again as he is also playing our favourite restaurant, The Crooked Billet. How cool is that top food and music!