It seems that this show was originally pencilled in at the Town Hall but somehow, they hosted the premiere for the fifth series of Peaky Blinders and as almost a stroke of genius, this wonderful chanteuse ended up at the delightfully intimate Glee Club. A real coupe for this venue as not only did the artist grace the stage tonight but had played their sister venue in Nottingham the evening before.
I have to admit that a lot of the supports at this venue I watch under sufferance but tonight proved to be a real gem. Emily Barker is an Australian singer-songwriter, musician and composer. She arrives on stage offers up a new song with `Geography` before sharing a song that has featured as the theme to the BBC drama Wallander, adapted from the Swedish novelist Henning Mankell`s novels starring Kenneth Branagh. All of this being a mystery to Emily before Martin Phipps, a British film and television composer, witnessed a house performance by her and persuaded her to record the song. This brief set continued with`Blackbird` with harmonica accompaniment, `Sister Goodbye` a tribute written for Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Godmother of Rock and Roll and a big influence on Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Another new song ‘Strange Weather` and concluding with `Disappear` a really boisterous, up tempo track to finish on. Emily will be touring again in October with Mary Waterson, whom she has recently been collaborating with, an opportunity too good to miss.
For those that don`t know, Madeleine Peyroux is an American jazz singer and songwriter who began her career as a teenager on the streets of Paris. In interviews, she has called her parents “hippies” and “eccentric educators” who helped her pursue a career in music. As a child, she listened to her father’s old records and learned to play her mother’s ukulele. When she was thirteen, her parents divorced, and she moved with her mother to Paris. Two years later she began singing with street musicians in the Latin Quarter. It`s twenty-two years since her debut “Dreamland” and Madeleine has a new album called “Anthem” her eighth, which she shares a few tracks from this evening. There is minimal fuss as she arrives on stage with her four-piece band to rapturous applause and begins the show with `I`m Alright` which she refers to as a breakup song before the religiously tinged `Our Lady Of Pigalle.
Madeleine an accomplished musician, switches between ukulele and guitar throughout the rest of the evening. We get Serge Gainsborough’s `La Javanaise` before a few cuts from the most recent album `Anthem` with a favourite of mine, the funky `On My Own`, the bluesy `Down On Me` and the stunning`All My Heroes` with the drinking song `If The Sea Was Whiskey` sandwiched between. `Moon River` is not a song I enjoy but I have to say there was much to enjoy with this version. The album`s title track `Anthem` written by Leonard Cohen follows before the band leave the stage and we get a melody of tunes with a cover of Josephine Baker`s `J’ai Deux Amours` along with `Hop Scop Blues`, `Trampin` and ` Don’t Cry Baby’.
The band return and close out the show with `Isn`t This A lovely Day`, the bossa nova influenced `Honey Party` with the audience encouraged to sing along and the heart breaking `Dance Me to The End Of Love` The final song is an extended version of `Careless Love` where Madeleine`s outstanding band get to share a little of the spotlight. They would be worth seeing in their own right comprising on lead guitar Jon Herington, known for his work with Steely Dan, Paul Frazier on electric bass, best known for his work with David Byrne, drummer Graham Hawthorne, who has toured with Paul Simon and marvellous keyboardist Andy Ezrin, The troupe have an early start to fly to Athens the next morning then off around Europe, Brazil and the US so this is where the show ends. Tonight, was a brilliantly intimate and enjoyable show, where the singer seemed relaxed, affable and good humoured in this compact venue.
Ms Peyroux has surrounded herself with some accomplished musicians that allow her, at times, delicate vocals to shine and her to become almost playful. She continues to challenge the confines of jazz, venturing into the field of contemporary music with unfading interest. Long may this continue.