Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri have been touring together for almost two decades now – an acoustic, stripped-back combination that works perfectly for both of them.
They play Chequer Mead, East Grinstead, on Saturday, October 29, at 7.30pm.
“It was one of those things where we met through other people,” Kiki says. “We had a mutual friend in the music business, a guy called Steve Brown who was the guy who kind of discovered Elton (John, with whom Kiki had the hit ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ in 1976) and it was Steve’s idea for us to go and do some acoustic shows.”
It was perfect timing: “I wanted to move on. I didn’t want to put a band together and do all the Kiki hits that people would expect, and the great thing is that, good or bad, people don’t really know what I am doing now, which is quite interesting – apart obviously from the fans we have built up. A lot of people come along and are quite surprised by the diversity of it all. Some of it is quite spiritual, and some it is the Kiki stuff. I often say ‘We are going to do some Kiki stuff – if you remember her!’
“I suppose it is interesting when you have been around a long time. It’s different for an actor who is obviously representing someone else’s work. If you are 25 years older as an actor, obviously you can’t be playing the young leads any more. But with music it is different. I suppose Elton has remained fundamentally the same, The Stones have, the big names, people like Rod Stewart, but I know that someone like Scott Walker has moved on.
“I think you just have to do what you do. There is no right or wrong – especially when you’re older. You do the things you’re comfortable with. I’m basically what you would call a working woman. I have never made it to the higher echelons and the rock-star mansions. When I was in my earlier career, I used to aspire to being the biggest and the best, but you change as you realise what your personality is. I am still the same person, but this is what I love doing. And I love the intimacy of the places we play.
“On the first night of the current set of dates, we were in Ipswich, and there was a couple that had never seen us before. They said it was like being in my living room, and I just thought that was a lovely thing to say. The thing about the artists I like is that they are people that turn up and it is them. They are themselves. That’s what I try to do.
“I do occasionally play with a band, and it is always fun but it is incredibly loud. You are just thrashing it out. There is a lot of nuance in what we do. It’s a particular quality of sound. You are able to hear yourself. We did a music festival recently, and there were two stages either side. We can thrash it out, but you come off thinking ‘OK, we thrashed it out, but I didn’t really use my musicality.’ That’s what is interesting. And it is a challenge. You are not going to always be everyone’s cup of tea… and that’s why we tour as Kiki & Carmelo, to make it clear that it’s not just going to be the Kiki hits. It is more than that.”
But yes, you will get ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’: “But we don’t do the version I did with Elton. We do a much slower version. It’s the version John Martyn would have done. I love John Martyn. We couldn’t possibly do the Elton John version!”
Tickets cost £16. Call the box office on 01342 302000.
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