Ahead of my phone call with Lulu I have been pre-warned she’s been “rather poorly” and won’t be able to speak for long, as her voice must not be “over-exerted”.
Lulu, however, appears not too bothered by the bout of flu which had seen her laid up for ten days (“I just had to say that’s it and rest!”) and is in rather chatty, affable form.
There’s no denying it’s her from the moment she comes on the line – sounding just as she does on TV – her Scottish roots coming through clearly one minute and then lapsing into a trans-Atlantic drawl, mixed with the accents of the various places she’s lived.
The tour which is to bring her to the Cliffs Pavilion in March is in celebration of the 50-year showbiz career she’s enjoyed, since she shot to fame with her rendition of Shout in the Sixties.
The years since then have encompassed two highly-publicised marriages, decades of TV credits and hits galore for the Grammy-nominated singer.
But this tour, she tells me, feels like something of a new beginning.
“It’s my first solo tour in ten years, my first album – self-penned – since 2005 and it’s like I’ve been 50 years in the making. It’s seems surprising, but in the past year I’ve got the best reviews of my life.
“I’ve had an extraordinary life – it’s amazing I’ve survived it. I feel I’m one of the lucky ones.
“I had very violent background. Fear ruled my life. I love my parents but there was a lot of shame – and it was shame that couldn’t be spoken about. It made me feel like I had to be so perfect. If
you want to analyse, why did both my marriages not last? My role models were probably not the best. But I don’t blame my parents.
“I’ve had so much success but so much disappointment. I’ve been up and down and around the block but for the first time I’m not feeling like, why don’t you like me? Please like me. I’m revitalised, reborn, rebalanced.”
The tour is somewhat autobiographical, with her hits and songs by some of her musical heroes, such as soul legends Ray Charles and Otis Redding, interspersed with personal anecdotes, songwriting experiences and other entertaining stories.
But 50 years at the top of any industry is an achievement – in one as fickle as showbiz, it’s nothing short of miraculous. How has she managed it?
“I’ve read every self-help book there is,” she confesses wryly.
“My family, my past made memore responsible. I learnt to adapt. I adapted and I learnt my craft.
And I had so much success – was so successful – so young I think I almost stayed frozen there.
“It’s a great asset that youthfulness, but it can stop you developing. I’ve been meditating since 1984. I’ve tried so hard not be vulnerable. And I was trained to do that, as a very young girl.”
Yet for the struggles of her past she’s quite possibly one of pop’s most enduringly bubbly performers. Indeed even as she recalls her troubles past, she remains almost overwhelming
“I’m going to do this until I drop,” she laughs when asked how she keeps going. “I’m always
looking at patterns, changing things. I can’t believe I’m only doing this now – writing, touring
the UK solo with my fabulous band for the first time in ten years. But it’s a new beginning. It’s great.”
For Lulu, Christmas is about being Nana Lu to her two grandchildren and being in that precious “bubble of love” with them.
“My daughter-in-law is just so inclusive. The breakfast, being there, being a grandmother, it’s
just so far from the bad memories,” joy positively radiates down the phone line as she chats Christmas.
And while she doesn’t make New Year’s resolutions (“I don’t want that kind of pressure!”) is there
anything that this 66-year-old star – who this year added a gig at Glastonbury to her overwhelming resume – still wants to achieve.
“Record with Justin Bieber,” she says, straight away.
“Oh yes, I’m a Belieber. I would love that.” she enthuses.
And in all honesty, I wouldn’t put anything past this pop star…
An Evening with Lulu is at the Cliffs Pavilion, Southend, on Thursday, March 3, at 8pm. For
tickets, priced from £36.50, call 01702 351135 or visit southendtheatres.org.uksouthendtheatres.org.uk