Peggy Lee

The Seventies

January 1970: Diplomat Hotel, Hollywood Beach, Florida
Songs included: Love Story / Spinning Wheel”Peggy Lee is not just a singer of songs. She’s a complete musical artist. Each tune delivered shows meticulous detail. The complete picture is Peggy Lee with spot and stage lights illuminating the occasion of song… She is not the same lady of song who frequents every major TV show. From those video appearances it would never be suspected that she has a keen sense of humor. Apparently much of the chatter unleashed here was unrehearsed, because her mini-symphony orchestra reacted with laughter, much as did the audience… Young singers should look to Miss Lee for professionalism in her approach to, and quality of, a vocal act.” – Variety, 2/4/70

April 1970: Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York
Songs included: Spinning Wheel / I See Your Face Before Me / Is That All There Is? / Mañana / Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head / Love Story / Bridge Over Troubled Water / You’ll Remember Me

“There is scarcely a singer on the boards who prepares more thoroughly than Miss Lee… She grooves excitingly with an easy gait that sometimes changes dramatically. She provides comfort with a demonstration of how to cater to audiences in intimate moments and still enjoy yourself as well. The lesson is amply appreciated.” – Variety, 4/15/70

“Peggy Lee proved once again that she is as ‘today’ in her musical thinking as the Beatles. …In all, she remains one of the most creative and entertaining performers around.” – Don Ovens, Billboard,4/25/70

June 1970: Royal Albert Hall, London
Songs included: Spinning Wheel / Maxwell’s Silver Hammer / Love Story / Don’t Explain / Why Don’t You Do Right? / Almost Like Being in Love / Something / Love Story / Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head / Big Spender / Is That All There Is?

“It would have been understandable if Peggy Lee, appearing live in Britain for the first time in nine years, had chosen to play safe by giving her fans a nostalgic selection of her past hits. However, it was a measure of the smoky-voiced songstress’ integrity and courage that she concentrated on contemporary material… As an interpreter of modern love songs, she is close to perfection. Her affinity to the roots of jazz, often underplayed but always present, enabled her to rejuvenate jaded and trite lyrics. Descriptions of Miss Lee’s special appeal seem to recall cliched allusions to her voice seducing and making love to the listener. Hackneyed though it is, it really was the effect.” – Variety, 7/1/70

“It says much for the enduring artistry of Peggy Lee that she received a standing ovation at the end of her concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall on Monday. It also says much for her fortitude in overcoming acoustical eccentricities that would be enough to daunt the most hardened entertainer… She’s likely to be around for quite some time when she can command the frenzied acclaim accorded to her in such a mausoleum as the Albert Hall.” – Laurie Henshaw, Melody Maker, 6/27/70

“It is not only that she looks the age of Bardot – just over 30 – but more importantly, she sounds young too. She has this enchanting manner of whispering, half-teasing the words of a song, and employs her jazz training in the superb manner of handling a lyric. How much shrill-voiced young pop singers of today could learn from her. Or perhaps they could not, because it is her background that bred what we hear today… I would like to hear her I again backed by a really good band in a more sympathetic surrounding. Her London fans, however, would obviously support her anywhere. She was rapturously received.” – Michael Wale, London Times, 6/23/70

July 1970: Central Park, New York
Songs included: Fever / Mañana / Big Spender / Why Don’t You Do Right? / What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life / Watch What Happens / You’ll Remember Me

“Murmuring most of her songs in a small, tight voice, Miss Lee proved herself a mistress of the art of making the microphone work for her. Her voice was always low and almost effortless, her demeanor cool. But the thrust of her voice was balanced so skillfully against her extremely artfully written arrangements that she was always on top of her songs, able to make the least little flick of vocal gesture count.” – John S. Wilson, New York Times, 7/29/70

February 1971: Palmer House, Chicago
Songs unknown

“As always, Miss Lee’s turn is virtually a dissertation on introspection. She is capable of accomplishing much with apparent little effort, depending upon consummate skill at shading and phrasing to achieve strong ends. Her catalog frequently becomes a series of thoughtful commentaries on the various emotional levels of interpersonal relationships, with some numbers imbued with an undeniably restrained but nevertheless spirit-lifting enthusiasm, while others are cloaked with a moving poignancy.” – Variety, 2/24/71

March 1971: Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York
Songs included: Fever / It’s Impossible / Make It with You / Sing / You’ll Remember Me / Goodbye / Let’s Get Lost in Now / Is That All There Is?

“She is a restless entertainer, never satisfied, always seeking new elements to enrich her singing and her act, a striking reason for her being a singer for all generations. This willingness to move into new areas keys her act and makes it not simply alive but kicking as well. Even the oldies are given new life.” – Robert Sobel, Billboard, 3/27/71

“One of Miss Lee’s major attributes is her attention to musical detail. With her pianist-conductor Lou Levy, she brings in one of the most polished music crews in the industry… This outfit, when necessary, cradles her, spurs her on, and helps burnish her turn to its top brightness… Couturewise, Miss Lee has come in well prepared. On night caught she wore a white flowing creation which serves as an additional indication of the care that goes into every detail of her turn.” – Variety, 3/24/71

“Superficially, Miss Lee’s performance seems the epitome of simplicity and directness. There are no gimmicks, no big productions. She just sings, most of the time in an understated, low-keyed fashion. Yet within this seemingly constricting range, she finds an astonishing variety of colors and emotions… It is a model of what one hopes a popular singer’s presentation will be but very rarely is.” – John S. Wilson, New York Times, 3/31/71

June 1971: Frontier Hotel, Las Vegas
Songs included: Come Back to Me / Make It with You / Where Did They Go? / My Sweet Lord / Is That All There Is? / Fever / Why Don’t You Do Right? / Mañana / Big Spender / Here’s to You

“Elegantly gowned distaff has never sounded better in her many Vegas outings. Her once shy, uncertain stage presence has evaporated, and she has peaked as a pleasant song-seller. Between-tune patter spotlights Miss Lee as a low-pressure comedienne, a quality which perfectly fits her distinctive tones in a well-balanced selection of standards and freshies.” – Variety, 6/16/71

March 1972: Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York
Songs included: Mañana / “a transcription of a Carl Sandburg poem and an adaptation of the Spanish Romanza”

“The reopening of this room would ordinarily be a worthwhile occasion, but with Peggy Lee as its topper, it becomes quite an event. Miss Lee not only gives evidence of the most careful preparations, but also provides one of the swingingest songfests, one filled with fun, and which seems to bring out many pleasurable feelings in the customers. In the current crop of tunes, of which there is a plenitude, she becomes a woman who remembers and a girl with hopes. It’s an infectious session in which she recounts a long history of her hits but still has enough of a youthful outlook that seems to look ahead to a future in which her charms won’t be wasted.” – Variety, 3/15/72

April 1972: Elmwood, Windsor, Ontario
Songs included: I Love Being Here with You / Fire and Rain / Just in Time / My Sweet Lord / Fever / Mañana / Big Spender / Is That All There Is?

“The old hypnosis makes itself known when Peggy Lee glides onstage in a flowing white gown… In a fast-flowing 50 minutes, the Mother Superior of Jazz, with quick, breathy introductory patter between numbers, moves through [songs listed above].” – Variety, 4/12/72

August 1972: Central Park, New York
Songs included: Just for a Thrill / Fire and Rain / Why Don’t You Do Right? / Mañana / Is That All There Is? / Fever / The More I See You / I’ll Be Seeing You

“Miss Lee, thirty summers after she came to prominence with Benny Goodman’s orchestra, has become the most polished and consistent popular singer heard anywhere.” – John S. Wilson, New York Times, 8/11/72

“Her spoken intros were especially effective, with such segues aiding ‘Is That All There Is?,’ her most dramatic number. The audience was wider in age range than usual for the fest, which usually draws young crowds for rock events. Miss Lee, who had a number of invited guests, was greeted warmly by the entire house. And she looked great, too.” – Variety, 8/16/72

November 1972: Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas
Songs included: When I Found You / A Song for You / Fever / Is That All There Is? / When I Found You / Carl Sandburg poem / Here’s to You / “A Man and a Woman” medley with Alan King

“She is not merely good, she is perfect. So perfect you almost wish she would trip over a stair to prove her human fallibility. One of those rare singers who have moved through many changes in popular music and adjusted to them all without compromising taste or integrity, she introduces tunes of every vintage… The finale, ‘Here’s to You,’ is a touching climax to a show at which you can do little but applaud and marvel.” – Leonard Feather, Los Angeles Times, 11/17/72

“King intros Miss Lee for her solid opening session, but not before he has launched into a few of his typical tirades… The next 45 minutes is of more dulcet expression with the Lee foray into five new ditties from her latest LP, four faves from the past, a bit of Carl Sandburg poetry leading into a musing period of nostalgic melodies, ending in a very low-key mood. She is one of the very few chanteuses who can take a dare with such a fadeout.” – Variety, 11/29/72

“As an incomparable singer, as a nightclub artist, as a weaver of moods, Peggy Lee is about as close to perfection as any singer who ever lovingly fashioned a performance for an audience… It was a long show, but not a moment too long. It never is when Peggy Lee is onstage.” – Leonard Feather, Melody Maker, 12/9/72

February 1973: Diplomat Hotel, Hollywood Beach, Florida
Songs included: I’ll Be Seeing You / A Song for You / Superstar / Fire and Rain

“She is one of those performers who can lean 100% on her past hits for effect, as so many do when playing the Miami area, but she eschews the easy way to combine what the crowd knows her for with more than a touch of the contemporary… Emerging in a long white gown, Miss Lee makes contact with her audience from the top and holds them for almost an hour before she gently releases them.” –Variety, 2/7/73

March 1973: Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York
Songs included: Strike Up the Band

“Miss Lee is a lady with a past who lives in the present. She refuses to let go of songs which have done well by her, but she also has a love of today’s music…Miss Lee remains a singer of top quality, mixing humor, sensitivity and rhythmic feeling with a keen sense of musicianship and meaningful lyricism.” – Variety, 3/28/73

June 1973: Playboy Hotel, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Songs included: Fever / Why Don’t You Do Right? / And I Love You So / Oh Babe, What Would You Say? / Love Song / The More I See You / I’ll Be Seeing You

“Lee’s stint is a study in preparation. Nothing – not a note, gesture or comment – seems left to chance, and this dedication to detail resulted in a superb 55-minute layout that nabbed a standing ovation at final bows. The top-liner has a knack for imbuing each song with equal parts soulfulness and sophistication, a technique that gives every item a very personal feeling.” – Variety, 7/4/73

“She was superb. In fact, by the time the applause from her standing ovation died away, everyone in the room realized they had heard one of the finest performers in show business today… At the risk of all superlatives for her performance, there was absolutely nothing at all that could detract from any number she did.” – Alex Thien, Milwaukee Sentinel, 6/30/73

October 1973: Palmer House, Chicago
Songs unknown

“During her 60-minute program, Lee goes in several musical directions for material. Broadway musicomedy items are contemporary and fare standard, with all tailored to her distinctive style. Per usual she treats her carefully constructed show in a casual manner, dishing up the kind of great thrushing, charm and grace that had the premier night auditors making with cheers.” – Variety, 10/17/73

November 1973: Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York
Songs unknown

“Physically, she is on the way to being her old svelte self, thus giving added credence to the sexy intonations that come with every tune at no extra cost… Lee is as much a musician as a singer. She knows her notes and she digs lyrics, and gets the maximum from each.” – Variety, 12/5/73

September 1974: Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York
Songs included: He Is the One / Always / The Heart is a Lonely Hunter / You Make Me Feel Brand New / Let’s Love

“It seems that with every appearance she takes on new colorations and permits another facet of herself to go on view… Lee seems to be pursuing a quest for youth assiduously… With a driving and frequently rocky background…she has the feel and trappings for the younger set. For the first time, Lee carries a trio of pretty black girl singers behind her… Fortunately, the adverse moments were brief and as the show progressed, the layout blended into the musical perfection generally associated with Lee.” – Variety, 9/25/74

“Simplicity has always been a key factor is Miss Lee’s best work. She has, in the past, managed to cut through even overblown surroundings to achieve that essential simplicity. But this time the trick is eluding her.” – John S. Wilson, New York Times, 9/22/74

“Some of the material and arrangements seemed to be contrived, but overall it was Ms. Lee’s strong vocal delivery and striking stage presence that command attention… Peggy Lee is still very much alive musically.” – Jim Fishel, Billboard, 10/5/74

January 1975: Palmer House, Chicago
Songs included: Let’s Love

“A good portion of the effect of Peggy Lee’s show in the Empire Room of the Palmer House is Frankie Master’s orchestra, here beefed up with an extra ten strings, a keyboardist, two guitarists and three female backup singers. Lee could and should get by more on her lustrous pipes, and scale down the production for smaller situations… Lee’s catalog consisted of pops and oldies and the act is basically well-paced, interweaving upbeat tunes with well-shaded love songs. At 70 minutes, the show is a trifle too long.” – Variety, 1/15/75

February 1975: Diplomat Hotel, Hollywood Beach, Florida
Songs included: Love Story / Is That All There Is? / Fever

“After a sound and lighting breakdown Peggy Lee gamely rallied, controlled her rarely-seen temper, and finished strong. Cafe Cristal audiences oohed and aahed on seeing a strikingly streamlined blonde who looks enchanting after a ruthless weight reduction. The message is gracefully upbeat, almost all the way. There are outstanding new compositions by young composers the caliber of Stevie Wonder, Leon Russell, Melissa Manchester and James Taylor.” – Variety, 2/26/75

August 1975: Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas
Songs included: Mañana / Leiber-Stoller songs from “Mirrors” album

“Peggy Lee is back with top-drawer sound and appearance blending with classy charm… Memorable is her familiar sound underlined by a gracious, almost regal attitude.” – Variety, 8/27/75

October 1975: Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York
Songs included: Professor Hauptmann’s Performing Dogs / I’ve Got Them Feelin’ Too Good Today Blues / I Remember / Tango / Say It / Love Me or Leave Me / I’ve Got You Under My Skin / Johnny Guitar / Is That All There Is? / I’ll Be Seeing You

“Lee’s present turn has a theme threaded through it. Act is labeled ‘Mirrors’ and is based on her current A&M album of that name. Much of it is a series of reflective songs which are contemplative and retrospective to give her dimension… Lee delivers meaningfully. Ballads frequently have a haunting and penetrating quality and there are times when her rhythmic tunes have the bounce to lift the audience several notches.” – Variety, 10/22/75

“The songs, with their modal harmonies and introspective lyrics, are a vast departure from past Lee offerings, but they still fit in the Peggy Lee style… Peggy Lee could have invented the word subtle. Her phrasing is still clear, her voice romantic and unmistakable. The title of one new song says she’s ‘Ready to Begin Again.’ Nonsense. She never stopped.” – Chip Orton, Cue, 10/25/75

“Lee shows why she is still among the top echelon of posh club attractions… A little Lee philosophy interspersed with the 20 tunes helped the 70-minute set fly by, including her comments on ‘Mirrors’ – ‘It reflects people, their experience, memories, happiness, sadness, and takes you on a cruise – a voyage of the mind’.” – Stephen Traiman, Billboard, 11/1/75

“She is the centerpiece of a carefully polished and crafted production… There are subtle accents, touches of color and atmospheric settings that, although they may occasionally be ponderous, contribute brilliantly to the torchy mood of Miss Lee’s singing on ‘Johnny Guitar’.” – John S. Wilson, New York Times, 10/27/75

February 1976: Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco
Songs included: Fever / Ready to Begin Again / Touch Me in the Morning / I’ll Be Seeing You

“Peggy Lee has often been called a cold singer, but after her opening in the Venetian Room of the Fairmont last night, even the snow atop Twin Peaks must have melted… You didn’t just watch Peggy Lee – she watched you. She sang with utmost control and confidence, playing to the audience’s intelligence, never doubting that the entire room wasn’t just as attuned to the lyrics of her ironically funny, esoteric ballads as she was… She’s in fine, fine form, and except for more rain, what else could we want?” – John Stark, San Francisco Examiner, 2/6/76

May 1976: Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas
Songs included: Now / Everything Must Change / Have a Good Time / You’re My Thrill / Natural Woman / Some Folks’ Lives Roll Easy / Saved / Fever / Why Don’t You Do Right? / Mañana / Is That All There Is? / Say It / I Want to Come Back as a Song / I’ll Be Seeing You

“Peggy held the audience spellbound with 14 songs in a 45-minute program which showcased her style from swing, jazz and love ballads to soft rock… It is easy to understand why Peggy may be billed in the future on Broadway and in Los Angeles in a one-woman show after her upcoming Japan tour.” – Hanford Searl, Billboard, 5/29/76

September 1976: Walter Tower Drury Lane Theater, Chicago
Songs included: Mack the Knife / Love for Sale

“Lee’s impeccable taste and professionalism go along well with the class of this 1,700-seat-plus room… Though occasionally drowned out by loud accompaniment and interfered with by a buzzing sound system on her quiet numbers, Lee conquered a near-SRO mid-week crowd.” – Variety, 9/22/76

October 1976: Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York
Songs included: Mack the Knife / Glad to Be Unhappy / Bewitched (Bothered and Bewildered) / Who Are You? / I Can’t Stop Loving You / Make Believe / two Japanese songs

“It seems that everything Lee is doing on this trip is fresh – whether or not it’s been around previously. She goes into reflective moods frequently to relive old times and old songs. Yet she is fresh and inventive.” – Variety, 10/20/76

“Peggy Lee’s annual appearances…are always somewhat of an adventure. There have been times when her performances there have been brilliant and others, such as the last two, when, because of material, orchestrations, or battles with the sound system, she has been surprisingly ineffective. This year is one of her good years – one of her very best, in fact. Everything – sound, orchestrations, programming, her voice – are under control and in balance. Looking slimmer and more relaxed than she has in several years, she is singing songs that, for the most part, do not pretend to be anything but good songs, songs that ride easily and smoothly on the low, throaty, shimmering tones of her voice… Overall, this is a polished performance that avoids some of the heavy mannerisms she has tripped over in the past.” – John S. Wilson, New York Times, 10/16/76

March 1977: The Palladium, London
Songs included: Lover / Mack the Knife / I’m Not in Love / I Go to Rio / Love for Sale / Everything Must Change / You Gotta Know How / The Folks Who Live on the Hill / I Don’t Want to Play in Your Yard / Have a Good Time / Touch Me in the Morning / Make Believe / Fever / Why Don’t You Do Right? / Is That All There Is? / Sing a Rainbow / Mr. Wonderful / Who Are You? / Where or When / Glad to Be Unhappy / It Never Entered My Mind / Falling in Love with Love / Bewitched (Bothered and Bewildered) / Dreams of Summer / Here’s to You

“The impersonal Palladium was transformed into a hall of nightclub intimacy as the singer caressed her songs of lost love and forlorn hopes, unique and brilliantly sung… Peggy Lee is an essentially elegant singer to whom words are all-important, and it was particularly interesting to observe that not once throughout the show did she let rip. In her handling of warm ballads, she was the epitome of cool and her physical mannerisms were finely economical, a lesson in the art of aware hipness… The lady was charm and taste and understatement and her important characteristic – the unhurried delivery. It was a peerless performance from a singer with a load of charisma.” – Ray Coleman, Melody Maker, 3/19/77

Despite her 30 years-plus as a major recording artist, it was good to note that the singer is obviously well aware of what is happening in popular music today, and her versions of songs by contemporary pop writers offered interesting contrasts with the originals… Even if the majority of her fans wanted to hear the tried-and-trusted numbers, it is still to Miss Lee’s credit that she ventures into areas where some of her own peers fail to tread… Miss Lee’s style is to understate – and never once does she resort to vocal melodrama. Her stage style is also simple, most of the time the singer just leaning against the piano.” – Chris White, Music Week, 3/77

“There is nothing very spectacular about Peggy Lee except that she happens to have about the finest voice of any female in popular music… It is not quite so easy to explain just why Peggy Lee gets by with only a great voice. It is natural, unforced and direct, but then the big advantage that popular singers enjoy over their concert counterparts is that they are all natural and direct. Where most of them let themselves down, though, is in pushing that naturalness to the utmost, whether in becoming melodramatic like Shirley Bassey or too perfect like Cleo Laine. Peggy Lee is a genius at just being herself, in the same way that a very good actress persuades you that she is always like that.” – Miles Kington, London Times, 3/14/77

March 1978: Music Center Pavilion, Los Angeles
Songs unknown

“The old stars of the pop musical world seem to have no trouble filling stately auditoriums with over 3,000 enthusiastic customers, as Peggy Lee did in this Music Center gig… The audience’s pleasure was constantly evident. There were people who obviously remembered every song identified through the years with Lee, and there were ripples of applause almost every time her 22-piece backup played the opening notes.” – Variety, 3/8/78

March 1979: Opera House, Sydney, Australia
Songs included: Love for Sale / Everything Must Change / Misty / Just the Way You Are / Touch Me in the Morning / Let It All Begin / Fever / Our Love Is Here to Stay

“After several months of illness, Peggy Lee’s comeback at the Sydney Opera House was a wow. The fact that Lee had waited so long in her career before touring Australia had made some skeptical as to whether she still had it in her… But the skeptics were surprised by a Peggy Lee who was every bit the showperson they knew her to be from recordings, films and video appearances. Despite the house and its notoriously bad acoustics, Lee succeeded in giving one of the best shows the concert hall has seen… She encored with ‘Our Love Is Here to Stay’ after roaring and stamping from the 2,000-strong SRO audience.” – Variety, 3/28/79

June 1979: Radio City Music Hall, New York
Songs included: Love for Sale / Everything Must Change / Just the Way You Are / Evergreen / Fever / Why Don’t You Do Right? / Is That All There Is? / Shangri-La / I Can’t Resist You / Some Time / I’ll Be Seeing You

“Peggy Lee made her first appearance in New York in almost three years Thursday evening at Radio City Music Hall… The singer, who has been ill, said she had thought of retiring during the last year. But she told her audience on Thursday that she was feeling well again, and her appearance and voice seemed to confirm that… Miss Lee seemed like her old confident, assured self in her opening numbers. Her voice had its familiar dark, throaty quality as she swung through ‘Love for Sale’… Her closing number, ‘I’ll Be Seeing You,’ was a reminder that Miss Lee is essentially a mood-weaver, a spellbinder, who can use a catchy rhythm as well as a throaty whisper to gain her effects. But this requires a concentration and projection that Miss Lee was not always able to sustain in the vastness of Radio City Music Hall.” – John S. Wilson, New York Times, 6/30/79