JW3, Finchley, London
For the past couple of years I have marked International Women’s Day by attending events organised by Green Note, last years curated by Kathryn Williams and this year by Michele Stodart – bass face extraordinaire from The Magic Numbers.
In reality nights like this can be mixed affairs with varying quality and degrees of success when interpreting songs in often vastly different arrangements but this evening flowed perfectly representing the many stages of womanhood.
What I enjoyed about this years event was the slightly wider breadth of age and experience gracing the stage which opened up themes and insight through their and other artist’s eyes. There was a strong mix of covers and original material throughout with accapella trio The Rosellas kicking us off with a sweet ‘Que Sera Sera’. Margo Buchanan gave ‘At 17’ a wistful and dreamlike quality that made a familiar tune sound fresh once more. She later joined Charlie Dore for an impromptu comic double act as they discussed their hero, Joni Mitchell, before a simply beautiful version of ‘Both Sides Now’ that even captivated this casual fan of the lady.
Charlie’s own song ‘All These Things’ which revolves around a couple going through IVF – she admits the 1st line “Waiting in a petri dish” came to her and the rest just tumbled after – is a heartbreaking song full of hope, prayers and dreams. It wasn’t the only one to bring a lump to the throat as musical arranger and Dream Academy vocalist Kate St John’s ‘We Watch You Slip Away’ about her own mothers battle with dementia seemed to make the whole room hold its collective breath.
Bristol’s Celestine closed the first half and absolutely blew the roof off the place with her take on Nina Simone’s ‘Four Woman’ inhabiting the strength and power of the lyric and Nina herself at its climax. Encapsulating motherhood and what it means to be female wre at the core of Michele Stodarts’ choices for the night in Dar Williams’ ‘When I Was A Boy’ and Brandi Carlyle’s take on motherhood. The Rosellas mostly unaccompanied version ‘Grandma’s Hands’ really shouldn’t have worked on paper but was genuinely brilliant. Throughout the night violinist Connie Chatwin added subtle colour and pathos to the songs.
Was thrilled that Angela Gannon chose Dusty’s ‘Quiet Please, There’s A Lady On the Stage’ (she is the Magic Numbers “Paddington Bear death stare” weapon to constant qig talkers apparently) as the 20th anniversary of her death has just passed I thought Angela stole the Leonard Cohen tribute gig here a couple of years ago with her country tinged take on ‘Tower Of Song’ and she nailed this too. The audience rose without prompting on the ‘stand for the ovation’ line and stayed there for the title song WhitneyChaka Khan’s ‘I’m Every Woman’ with Celestine again wowing with her voice and expressive dancing.
The night was rounded off with a group sing-a-long of ‘Turn Turn Turn’ and this incredibly talented group of women took their final bows
It made me think..
about leaving the ‘ouse