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Mark Moraghan - Live Review -

23 September 2009
Chris High

Is there any better was to take a break from rehearsals for an upcoming sell out than to launch your debut album in the theatre the musical is about to place in? Probably not, but that's what actor, singer and sometime celebrity chef, Mark Moraghan did - who in October is to star in Rob Fennah's adaptation of Helen Forrester's Twopence to Cross the Mersey at the Liverpool Empire - when he took to the stage to sing songs from his new Swing album, Moonlight's Back in Style (Linn Records), before an invited audience that filled the Empire's Atrium Bar to capacity.

The songs, written by Radio Five Live and Watchdog presenter, Nicky Campbell, are a delight lyrically and have the ability to lodge in your head thanks in no small part to some fabulous arrangement by Paul Buck, who played piano here alongside Sam Brown on Drums and Mark Howell on Bass.

Of course a big plus is the quality of Moraghan's voice, which is as rich as Belgian chocolate and as smooth as glass as he belts out songs such as Love Ran Out of Time, Wonderfully Wonderful You, Come For the Ride and the truly wonderful Many's The Time with all the style of Dean Martin, all the energy of Sammy Davis Jnr and all the charisma of a Frank Sinatra combined.

"I hope you're all having a good time" he said to those assembled, "but I'll bet you're not having as good a time as me." And it shows.

Nicky Campbell joined in, singing backing vocals on several tracks and picking up a Ukulele on several others, to show off his hitherto unknown skills as a musician of some calibre, although for the most part is content to stand to the side and listen to the songs being sung how they should be.

Already Moonlight's Back in Style has garnered rave reviews from the likes of Sir Michael Parkinson ("A welcome venture into the world of swing, ‘Angel Don't Cry' in particular is a charming and moving ballad"), Sir Tim Rice ("The lyrics are annoyingly good"), Paul Gambacinni ("On so many levels, this should not work, but on so many levels, it does") and Stewart Copeland of The Police ("He's relaxed, easy and cool") and looks set to storm the charts.

If this evening is anything to go by, then all of the plaudits are more than thoroughly deserved.

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