The Puppini Sisters / Oct. 3, 2007 / London (Shepherd's Bush Empire)
If the Puppini Sisters were going "forward to the '40s" when they emerged last year, they're now nestling nicely in the noughties. During this London show, the girls were presented with gold discs toIf the Puppini Sisters were going "forward to the '40s" when they emerged last year, they're now nestling nicely in the noughties.
Formed in 2004, the three-girl U.K. outfit enjoyed a promising start to their recording career with last year's "Betcha Bottom Dollar" (Universal Classics and Jazz). On the surface, Marcella Puppini, Stephanie O'Brien and Kate Mullins came across like a modern day Andrews Sisters, but demonstrated both versatility and humor with their combination of vintage covers and lighthearted adaptations of more recent pop hits. During this London show, the girls were presented with gold discs to mark 100,000 U.K. shipments of the album.
The Puppinis' latest nine-date tour marked the Oct. 1 British release of their sophomore set "The Rise & Fall Of Ruby Woo," which is planned to appear in the U.S. in the second quarter of next year. This London centerpiece was their biggest headlining show to date. From the introductory "Spooky," which also opens the new album, they delivered a dose of glamour and fun that may still see the light in musical theater productions, but rarely makes it onto a gig stage.
Chestnuts such as "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (From Company B)" and "Mr. Sandman" were played as early cards, but in between, their improbably curvaceous cover of Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights" was a reminder of their ability to swing through the decades.
A novelty element may remain in interpretations of such songs as "Could It Be Magic" and "Heart of Glass," but you would indeed have to have a heart of glass not to join the party on their hilarious reinvention of Beyonce's "Crazy in Love." Each of those reworkings is arranged with admirable three-part precision and detail, which they also bring to period pieces on their second album such as "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" and the Patti Page song "Old Cape Cod," known to a young audience via its sampled use on Groove Armada's 1999 hit "At The River," and arranged here by O'Brien.
The important element for the Puppinis' progress, and the thing that prevents them merely going backward to the '40s, is the development of their own songwriting. The show featured Mullins' new composition "It's Not Over," plus Puppini's "And She Sang" and her delightful mock diatribe "I Can't Believe I'm Not A Millionaire."
After closing with a slinky "Walk Like An Egyptian," they encored triumphantly with "I Will Survive," emphasizing again that a Puppini is for life, not just for the cocktail hour.