I hadn’t heard of Evie Rose Lane before she was a guest at a Danielle Steers concert, one that was postponed several times due to something we need not speak about here. She became something of an internet sensation through online videos of her singing a range of covers, ‘mashups’ and some original material. This was a good opportunity, too, to experience a venue I’d never been to before, and I found it both amusing and refreshing to be summarily ignored by the bar staff at Lola’s Underground Casino (actually a concert venue with no gambling in the room) as they flitted around taking orders from other people. Their prices were rather expensive in any event, and as there were plenty of other punters trying to ply themselves with alcohol, I was happy to let them. The queues at the bar were what they were, and I couldn’t be bothered. So I just sat in my chosen spot and soaked up the atmosphere.
Evie (such was the level of informality at this gig that it’s first name terms only, from the outset) loves to riff. She does it very well, but it nonetheless has invited comments from those who would rather showtunes were sung in the style to which they would usually be sung in a theatrical production. Over the years I have tended to agree, if only because I’ve heard so much terrible riffing on stage that I’ve always wanted whoever is doing it to shut up and go away. But then there’s Evie Rose Lane, riffing with such flair and talent that even her remakes of Rodgers and Hammerstein numbers are a pleasure on the ears. I’ve never heard anything like it, and in a good way!
Joined by Renée Lamb and Natalie Paris, both Six the Musical alumni, the trio performed a rendering of ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’ from Les Misérables. In some ways, it was too jaunty as a song of lament, though the harmonies the ladies had justifiably brought the house down. Singing the title number from 42nd Street on her own, Evie hadn’t done it in its entirety without stopping before a live audience before, and so was a little apprehensive.
She needn’t have worried, and she needn’t have been so apologetic about her apparently rusty piano skills, which were in fine form. I suppose there’s no harm in being humble, and it’s far better than being overconfident and not hitting the mark. Seeing two musical directors at the piano in the same concert doesn’t happen often. This is the first time I’ve seen three: Sam Young (young by name, young by nature) was up and down like a yo-yo, giving away to Theo Jamieson, and then to Noam Galperin. Jamieson wrote a musical for radio and podcast called U.Me, broadcast on BBC World Service, about – wait for it – people whose lives are substantially disrupted due to the public health restrictions imposed in the wake of a global pandemic. Even with that background detail, Evie made a song from that show sound so warm and inviting.
There was an almost inevitable tribute to Stephen Sondheim: Evie plumped for ‘Being Alive’ from Company, a big sing, originally written for a tenor to sing. Prior to hearing Evie’s version, I’ve only ever seen one woman perform it convincingly – Cynthia Erivo. Evie Rose Lane is a rare talent, and someone I’d happily see again.