Dionne Warwick performing her Don’t Make Me Over tour at The Symphony Hall Birmingham on Thursday 20th September 2018.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

It has been more than fifty years since one of the greatest popular musical vocalists of our time, Dionne Warwick, released her debut single Don’t Make Me Over, and last night the multi Grammy Award winning icon brought her tour of the same name to the Symphony Hall in Birmingham.

At 77 she still remains a formidable stage presence, and as she strolled onto the stage to the sound of a tinkling piano, she looked a picture of serene elegance. Starting her set with a fifteen minute conversational preamble in which she outlined the order of the events to come and warned the crowd that “they would be sitting for a long time” she was true to her word as her show lasted two hours without an interval and much more by way of conversation.

Backed by a very talented band she kicked off the show with Don’t Make Me Over before treating fans to perhaps her biggest hit of all, Walk On By, to which the crowd instantly sang along to. With an extensive catalogue to choose her set list from, many of her hits were merely visited in a perfectly executed segue.

As the favoured singer for the song writing team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Warwick put her imprint on many of the most wondrous songs ever, and she showcased many of them last night, as they sent a frisson of delighted recognition through the audience. Whilst there were moments when her voice appeared to have been robbed of its sweetness, it still had heaps of character.

Her band was also in magnificent shape, delivering lavish and rich arrangements with seamless transitions. During I Say A Little Prayer she was joined by her son, drummer and vocalist David Elliot who stunned with his incredible, versatile voice. Do You Know The Way To San Jose soared over a bossa nova rhythm, whilst Anyone Who Had A Heart, You’ll Never Get To Heaven (If You Break My Heart), Always Something There To Remind and Close To You filled an impeccable set list.

She provided a full evening of nostalgia, as the New Jersey star performed classic hit after beloved classic hit which have spanned the decades. There was even reference to music from the movies which included the beautiful Arthur’s Theme, The Look Of Love, Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head and Alfie.

The Barry Gibb penned Heartbreaker induced a mass sing along, whilst perhaps the showstopper of the evening, I’ll Never Love This Way Again, produced by Barry Manilow and which won her a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocalist in 1980, was middle of the road pop balladry at its finest.

Her granddaughter Cheyenne Elliot graced the stage for an enchanted rendition of Love Will Find A Way, a song written for Whitney Houston and Warwick by son David, before ending the show with Cheyenne at her side for a beautiful version of What The World Needs Now Is Love and her multi platinum Aids fundraiser, That’s What Friends Are For, before she exited the stage to a well deserved standing ovation, leaving the audience knowing that they had been in the presence of greatness.