David Scheel





David Scheel’s entertainment, Don’t Shoot me, I’m only the Piano-Player, attracted a full house to Moffat’s Old Well Theatre last Friday evening.  His send-ups of some of the ridiculous things done and said by musicians and others kept the audience laughing, as did his facility in pointing the pianistic foibles of others.  He also pilloried various musical styles with panache.


The evening began with the story of a well-built prima donna who got her, literal, come-uppance from Covent Garden Opera House stage-hands she had consistently treated with contempt.  Their strategic replacement of a cushioned landing mattress with a trampoline, turned her normally tragic farewell into an hilarious series of uncontrolled re-appearances.


He followed this introductory tale with his impression of the manner in which various composers might have used the theme of Scotland the Brave.   Mozart, Russian heavyweights, Albéniz, avant-garde music and swing were all featured, to good effect.


David’s excellent sense of timing which, coupled with a raised eyebrow and a twinkling eye, is a great asset.  Stories, such as his splendid explanation of the words of Waltzing Matilda related in a variety of accents, brought the house down.  He quickly established a rapport with his audience and was at his wittiest when making local or topical references, as with his quiet snipe at David Blunkett.  Time passed quickly as he interspersed performances of his own lyrical compositions, a study on a theme by Granados and a medley of Gershwin hits, with a series of stories and quotations, often cleverly illustrated at the piano.


The committee of the music society were relieved that the piano he was using did not fall into the category of “bad pianos I have known”, the worst of which was a concert grand that lost a leg after the first chord of a recital was played.   Another piano was so out of tune that he would not even sit at it until action was taken.   Returning to the concert hall after a suitable delay he discovered that they hadn’t had it tuned, they had painted it!


One of many highlights was David’s improvisation on a sequence of notes chosen randomly by members of the audience.  He elected to use them thematically, rather than harmonically, so that their recurrences in an effective extemporisation were clear. When the evening drew to a close the audience’s enthusiastic appreciation of his artistry induced him to play, as an encore, a medley of “twenty tunes he loves to hate”; good tunes so popular that he gets sick of them.


This concert was the first that David Scheel had given in Britain for a number of years.  I would be surprised if audiences do not continue to enjoy his refreshingly humorous performances for a long while yet.