World Buskers Festival

A thoroughly satisfying magical hour


Lili la Scala - rocking a magnificently glamorous electric blue evening gown and some killer heels - describes herself as a "vintage singer of vintage songs" but this isn't the whole story: she is a commanding figure with a startlingly lovely voice.

Her show covers upbeat wartime classics from entertainers such as Cole Porter, George Formby, Ivor Novello and Gracie Fields, interspersed with wry anecdotes and warm patter. The renditions are variously saucy, witty and heartfelt, and given Lili's verve and enthusiasm for the genre, not to mention a good spoonful of innuendo, each sound as modern as they would have done the day they were written. The audience plainly adores her: her torch songs are met with sighs, and the comic ditties with cackles and eager applause.

She and her wonderfully dextrous accompanist, Dickie (Richard Healey), have a fine chemistry. The two performers, as well as the technical crew, are to be commended for making the unforgiving institutional maw of the Christ's College auditorium feel like an intimate club.

Songs to Make You Smile is a thoroughly satisfying and magical hour's worth of entertainment by a world class performer. Depending on what you bring to the performance it will either be a rousing trip down memory lane or (for philistines like me) a whirlwind introduction to the music hall's back catalogue. Either way, you're likely to love it.

Songs to make you smile

The Press CLUB at Christ's College, Christchurch
Until 25 Jan 2014

Reviewed by Erin Harrington, 18 Jan 2014 

A thoroughly satisfying magical hour