The Piano Man, getting in the mood for a melody

The Piano Man Paul Maxwel on stage with his backing band doing what he loves most.
The Piano Man Paul Maxwel on stage with his backing band doing what he loves most. / SUR
  • Paul Maxwel. The talented musician’s dynamism at the piano and his powerful vocal talent sets him apart from his contemporaries

The Costa del Sol is home to numerous expat musicians, singers and composers, some of whom have been at the forefront of the British music scene, while others have created their names here on the coast.

Pianist, composer and song writer Paul Maxwel has become one of the most respected musicians in Malaga over the last 30 years, and he has performed on some of the biggest stages in the world.

Paul, also known as The Piano Man, is an international performer of British origin who was brought up in Andalucía. He came to Spain as a child, when his parents moved from Gloucester to start a new life in Marbella.

He began learning to play the piano at the age of nine, although his musical awakening began at the age of seven, when he joined his parent's show band on drums. Since then, he has gone on to perform all over the world, supporting celebrated artists such as Sister Sledge, Michael Bolton, Simply Red, Billy Ocean, Cilla Black, Cliff Richard and George Benson, to name just a few.

Paul, who still lives in Marbella, possesses a charismatic sense of humour, and this, along with his dynamism at the piano and his powerful vocal talents, have made him one of the most sought-after musicians on the circuit. His passion for music is unfaltering and he claims nothing makes him happier than to be on stage performing in front of a large crowd.

His repertoire is varied and he performs different music depending on the venue. This can be with his live band in front of thousands of people in venues like Luz de Gas in Barcelona, the Midem festival in Cannes or at the Baden Baden Casino in Germany; while he gets an equal thrill from playing solo in intimate piano bars all over Europe.

"Music is my life and I love playing live, because I live off the energy of the crowd. I prefer to perform with a full backing band, but the solo gigs in the piano bars is a more direct concept," Paul tells SUR in English.

Paul is also an exceptional songwriter and composer: his song I'm So High was the official song of Radio Cope's coverage of the UEFA European Championship in 2008, a tournament that Spain went on to win. The song was taken from his CD Love and Pride, which is a collection of Paul's own compositions, and a version of Billy Joel's Piano Man, a song which has become his theme tune. The CD was recorded in Seville and Los Angeles, where he worked with Grammy award-winning producers Rafa Sardina and Rick Logan.

The talented musician has also had several piano bars on the Costa del Sol: he is currently the joint owner of Joys Live in Puerto Banús, where, pandemic permitting, he performs regularly. His show includes everything from an explosive version of Great Balls of Fire, where he imitates Jerry Lee Lewis by playing the piano with his feet; along with vocal imitations of artists such as Louis Armstrong, Tom Jones and Stevie Wonder.

Driven by the vibes

Maxwel has also performed at charity events attended by The Dutch Royal family and American President Bill Clinton, although he claims that he rarely gets stage fright.

"I don't get nervous about a performance, but the first few minutes are unpredictable because I worry if the sound will be good. Once I'm comfortable, I am driven by the vibes," he explains.

Paul is currently preparing for a concert with the Malaga Symphonic Orchestra this summer. The Elton John Experience is a show based on the music of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Paul has performed the show at various venues along the coast, but this time will be extra special, as he will be performing with a full orchestra for the first time.

"It's not a tribute in the true sense of the word, because I don't dress up or anything. I just love their music and it is really suited to my style. It always goes down well with the audience.

"I have spent two years working on the arrangements for the concert. I have always wanted to perform with a symphony orchestra, so this is like a dream come true," he says, enthusiastically.