November 17, 2023
The Palladium, London
It was back in 2019 that Dave Stewart first performed his ‘Eurythmics Songbook’ show at London’s Royal Festival Hall, taking almost five years for him to finally reconvene his superb cast of players and take the concert on the road.
Arriving in London following shows across the continent – and a homecoming gig in Sunderland a week prior – it’s an ominous start to the evening with its leading man notably absent from the ensemble on stage and the spotlight instead on the all-female cast of musicians who bring the catalogue to life.
Among them are three vocalists – Australian singer-songwriter Vanessa Amorosi, Warrington-born vocalist RAHH, and his daughter (Annie Lennox’s goddaughter), Kaya Stewart – who collectively inject all of their being into the duo’s repertoire, each playing to their own strengths to bring a contemporary edge to the material while maintaining its authenticity.
Billed as a 40th anniversary of their breakthrough LP, the mighty ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’ (1983), its title song in fact closed the show, which included hits from most albums in the Eurythmics catalogue, from 1981’s ‘In The Garden’ (opening number Never Gonna Cry Again) to 1999’s I Saved The World Today from final studio album, ‘Peace’.
As such, the opening half of the evening was something of a slow burn, with an initially subdued audience largely silent throughout Kaya’s opening performance of Never Gonna Cry Again / The Walk, before Stewart entered the spotlight from the side of the stage to This City Never Sleeps, appearing as the ringleader of his travelling musical circus.
Each vocalist played their part; the father-daughter bond between Stewart and Kaya was clear to see and her musicality clearly passed on from her chart-topping dad, with her rendition of I Saved The World Today – which “was written in 45 minutes” and “very apt in this moment in time” – a standout, while RAHH lent a rockier edge to anthems such as Here Comes The Rain Again and Missionary Man. But it was Amorosi who stole the show with a standout vocal, bringing the room to life with early cuts I Need A Man and Who’s That Girl, and leading singalong moments later in the show with the double-hit of Thorn In My Side and When Tomorrow Comes.
Having retired from touring, Lennox – who last performed with her former bandmate during their 2022 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction – was naturally missed from the show, and when it seemed for a second that she could make a surprise appearance towards the end of the set, Stewart instead welcomed Beverley Knight to the stage for a powerhouse rendition of the Aretha Franklin collaboration, Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves.
The soul star stuck around for the final number, Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), riffing off the girls’ tight harmonies and proving that decades on from its release, it remains the ultimate party piece.
There’s no denying that everyone on stage was more than qualified to perform the Eurythmics songbook and come the end of the show, there wasn’t a person in the house who believed otherwise, despite having such hefty shoes to fill. The set could be reworked to not be so top heavy and for a musician known for documenting so much of his life on camera, a little more archive footage would could have gelled the show together even more, but as a tribute to one of the greatest pop duo’s of all time Stewart’s band did a cracking job.