Review: Tosh Wanogho-Maud – Songs + Stories, Piano Smithfield

A bit of cabaret for me with Tosh Wanogho-Maud’s really rather excellent Songs + Stories

“Something I’m not, but something I can be”

I don’t go to as many cabaret shows as I’d like to, but some performers demand the attention – Tosh Wanogho-Maud is one such star. From the ensemble of shows like Show Boat, Dreamgirls and an ill-fated touring production of The Producers, to more high-profile turns in the likes of The Drifters Girl and Ain’t Too Proud, he has been a consistent joy to watch and listen to, even when I haven’t particularly much liked the show itself.

So the opportunity to see the man himself without a jukebox show around him was one I was keen to take, as were many others evidently as the three performances of Songs + Stories were quickly sold out. And as well they should be, for the intimate surroundings of Piano Smithfield were a wonderful place in which to get to know Wanogho-Maud just a little more through his innate storytelling gifts.

Song selections ranged from favourites plucked from The Drifters Girl and Ain’t Too Proud (‘I Wish It Would Rain’ and ‘Stand By Me’ the standouts there) to eclectic pop choices such as Billie Eilish’s ‘What I Was Made For’ and Jason Mraz’s ‘Geek in the Pink’, a super-impressive vocal range revealed itself, able to connect with whatever genre and really imbue it with heart and soul.

There was also a diversion into a couple of songs from a musical that he is writing with partner Nick Gardner. Both were interesting and show potential, though it is always a bit of a risk to debut material at a show like this, especially as Gardner gets to play one of his own songs too. Overall though, the mix works well due to Wanogho-Maud’s personability, as the stories part of the show sees him offer what feels like real insight into the creative impulses and personal connections that drive his work. Hugely enjoyable,

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