Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon spoke to cabaret star Michael Griffiths about his upcoming London shows.
Hi Michael thanks so much for talking to me. What can audiences expect from your London shows? My shows are all affectionate tributes to artists whom I admire greatly. Audiences can expect to hear songs they know but reimagined, stripped back and with stories from the artist’s lives to give new meaning to their songs. You hear lyrics differently when they are performed behind a baby grand, they really come alive. It’s always such a joy to share them with audiences who have the same affection for these artists as I do.
Are you looking forward to performing in London again? Absolutely! I had the best time performing there last year in the same venue, it’s exquisite and I had such beautiful audiences who were right on board. The shows require a leap of faith as I perform them all ‘in character’ but without any impersonation – London really ‘got it’, it was so much fun, I can’t wait to do it again! I’m bringing ‘Kylie’ direct from a full run at Edinburgh Fringe so I’ve never been so ‘show fit’!
It’s quite a mixture of people you cover in your shows – was there any particular reason you picked Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Cole Porter? Madonna and Kylie were absolute childhood heroes. Growing up gay in Australia, they were like my secret best friends who understood me and accepted me as I am. The fact they both have such kick-ass songbooks is just a bonus! I think neither artist quite get the respect they deserve for having such great pop sensibilities – whether being songwriters themselves or sniffing out a hit from another songwriter, they’re both always on the money. And both have stood the ultimate test – the test of time. Cole Porter is an entirely different beast, his songs are exquisite and require no ‘reimagining’ from me. What’s most surprising about him is his extraordinary life story, which I tell using all his best known songs. Sometimes people ask me if they’d be familiar with his work, he’s one of those artists who you don’t always realise how many songs of his you know – think ‘Anything Goes’, ‘Night and Day’, ‘Let’s Do It’, ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’, every song is a classic.
Are there any other artists who you would love to feature in one of your shows? I’m a complete Pet Shop Boys nut, I devour everything they release and have loved them since I first heard ‘West End Girls’ in 1986. One day I’ll do a song cycle or something a bit different with their catalogue. I keep hearing their songs in my head with perhaps just a string quartet and focusing on the lyrics and their witty observations. They’re in a class of their own.
Have you any favourite songs that you really love performing? As much as I love a good disco boogie, it’s always the tender moments in my shows I love the most. In ‘In Vogue’ it’s ‘Drowned World / Substitute For Love’ and in ‘Lucky’ it’s ‘Breathe’. I also do a stripped back version of ‘Wouldn’t Change A Thing’ which I adore. In the Cole Porter show it would have to be ‘Love For Sale’ – he says himself it was his favourite song of his own and I’m inclined to agree.
If you had to try and convince people to come along and see a show – what would you say? Madonna, Kylie and Cole Porter – what’s not to love? Between them are some of the best popular songs from the last 100 years and what better way to celebrate Kylie’s 50th and Madonna’s 60th this year!! They’re all ‘tribute’ shows in the true sense of the word in that that show respect and admiration. And they’re all good for a laugh too!
By Emma Clarendon
Michael Griffiths will perform Lucky: Songs by Kylie from 30th August to 2nd September, In Vogue: Songs By Madonna on 30th & 31st August and Cole: Songs By Cole Porter on 4th and 5thSeptember at Crazy Coqs/Live at Zedel in London. To buy tickets, please go to – https://www.brasseriezedel.com/live-at-zedel/programme