Dean Friedman is a personable guy. He came running out onto the stage, beamed at his audience and dropped into his first song. Then he chatted to us as though we had just popped down to the pub together. Formerly unfamiliar with his work, I liked him.
The show is called Words and Music and the latter benefits from the former. His music is not assertive enough to make for as engaging a show without the digressions, explanations and jokes between each song. Friedman is not a comedian, but he is funny and his preamble makes the songs all the more magnetic.
For example, he told us wistfully how musicians write songs depicting a special bond between those who have been in relationships. The second song he played, he announced, ‘is not one of those songs’. Much to the amusement of the audience, Friedman proceeded then to sing the lyrics, ‘I’m not sorry to see you go’. He titled another ‘Death to the Neighbours’, and later embarked on the classic, ‘I’m in Love with the McDonald’s Girl’. Each time, with a sort of boyish exuberance and keen wit, he observes how each song came to be. He likes to have fun with his music – his spirited expression is a kind of theatre for him – and we had fun with him.
Nor does he stick with the comic. Sometimes he will indulge in more introspective songs, like those relating to the Lake District and the failing health of a close friend. His voice does interesting things –Americana growls and highs bring nuance and animation to each piece – and though the tracks in which he uses keys instead of acoustic guitar would have profited greatly from the tone of a piano, it may have been that this was beyond his control.
Words and Music is an enjoyable time. Dean Friedman is enthusiastic and entertaining enough that even if you’re not familiar with his work, you’ll have fun. If you are familiar, then I am sure you will have as much fun as the fans who joined in excitedly with his finale.