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Birmingham Ronnie Scott's

Las Vegas meets Radio 2 and hits the sun bed for the finishing touch...

Birmingham Ronnie Scott's

Through the hazy glow of candlelight, it's just possible to discern this is no ordinary gig. Largely middle-aged couples gaze at each other over dinner for two, clinking wine glasses and placing orders with passing waiters. It's certainly a far cry from the usual Camden back room yet the devotees gathered here tonight include Jarvis Cocker, DJ Parrot of The All Seeing I and the odd member of The Charlatans. Cabaret as the new rock'n'roll, anyone?

Well, don't laugh just yet. There's something irresistibly charming about slick, smiley '70s icon and - thanks to the Jarvis-penned 'Walk Like A Panther' - recent chart visitor, Tony Christie. Tonight, it's his wedding anniversary and all the Christie family are down to cheer him on, to sway to the easy listening and chuckle at Tony's welcoming dedications between songs.

Obviously, it's exactly the sort of smooth, soulful entertainment you'd expect - Las Vegas meets Radio 2 and hits the sun bed for the finishing touch. We get covers of Richard Marx, Lionel Richie and a whole medley of Beatles songs but, while it's hardly ground-breaking, it's barely worth faulting. The sheer respect in the air for Christie is impressive enough and musical differences are irrelevant. The very point of cabaret is you get what you came for and leave smiling. And Tony Christie is the master of that.

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