James Biddlecombe 'Baubles, Bangles and Biddie'

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Last Show: Thursday 13 th December 2018

The Pheasantry (Chelsea)

The original 'Blitz Kid' returns to The Pheasantry following three sell-out shows this year. This time with a Christmas show like no other for those who are at best ambivalent when it comes to the holidiay season. With his long-time accompanist and buddy, Chris Marshall, James Biddlecombe will entertain you with Christmas (and non-Christmas) songs - some familiar, some not so -  along with some of their original material and anecdotes from a life upon the wicked stage. An evening of charm, romance and hilarity suitable for children over 30.

“The singer’s versatile vocal chords are a legend” - Aline Waites - REMOTEGOAT

“Great panache...distinctly chic...unabashed and a sharp line in banter." Sarah Howell - THE OBSERVER

Peter Parker -  author of 'Isherwood',  'The Old Lie - The Great War and the Public School Ethos',  'JR Ackerley'  and 'Housman Country' writes: In the in the dark ages known as the Late Seventies,  James Biddlecombe could be found earning what passed for his keep in a murky London dive aptly named the “Blitz”.

It was indeed the sort of place in which one could imagine a stray bomb plummeting through the roof,  and on a bad night it sometimes looked as if though one just had -  though terminal intoxication rather than high explosives was usually to blame for the way the clientele lolled around at odd angles with dazed expressions.  Everyone perked up however,  when Biddie -  impeccably tailored and coiffed, disposing himself elegantly against a battered old upright piano - started his set. He was probably the first person I'd ever met who had his suits specially made for him.  The rest of us, dazed by the fluorescent excesses of punk,  felt at liberty to throw on anything that came to hand - and not even necessarily from the wardrobe -  before setting out for the evening.  We were shamed by Biddie’s style but also entranced by his voice and songs from other eras he chose to perform. It is often said -  usually of those who cannot sing in tune -  that the most important talent a cabaret singer have can have is ‘to put a song across’ .  Certainly in the Berlin cabarets of the 1920s and 1930s it was possible to have a glittering career even if (as in the case of the great Claire Waldoff), your voice sounded like gravel being churned in a bucket or (like La Dietrich) you slid between octaves in the more demanding stretches of songs by Friedrich Holländer.  Biddie, who is happily possessed of a voice that is both pitch perfect and infinitely flexible,  can not only put a song across but often make it his own. So much so, in fact, that when I listen to many standards in my head it is not, say, Ella Fitzgerald or Blossom Dearie I hear,  but James Biddlecombe.

Back in the Blitz,  many of us were hoping that Biddie might be preserved on vinyl. Time and technology has moved on and here we are - at last! -  with his first CD.  Biddie too has moved on,  and his song book is now very eclectic indeed. 

From the sublime ('Ashes to Ashes') to the ridiculous ('Circus of Love')  Biddie doesn't merely cover songs: he reinvents them.


Band Lineup

James Biddlecombe (vocals)

Chris Marshal (piano & vocals)