Saturday, 5 March 2011

Hazel O'Connor: The Bluja Project

Last night we went to see Hazel O'Connor singing with The Bluja Project at Fleetwood's Marine Hall.

With Hazel onstage were saxophonist Clare Hirst and providing a really solid and feisty piano accompaniment, Sarah Fisher.

I met Hazel back in 2007 when I was introduced by Ingrid Pitt, the actress at a Memorabilia show, who said to her, "This is John, he's a fabulous singer!" Which, being said to someone I consider to be a fabulous singer, was a bit embarrassing at the time! Once Ingrid had gone back to her own stand, Hazel grinned and dug me in the ribs and said "So? Fabulous singer eh?"

At that show I bought her album Hidden Heart which had a very strong Celtic influence and was acoustic in its backing. Well worth a listen, by the way. So I wasn't sure what to expect when we turned up to find friends Chrissie, Alex and Ellie waiting for us. There were a few punk hairstyles in the audience and I knew everyone (myself included) would be waiting for her to perform that wonderful song, Will you from the film Breaking Glass. And with a saxophonist in the group it was a pretty certain bet!

It came towards the end of the set as could be expected and was as good as you could expect. Not as in "as good as you could expect with just two musicians" but seriously "as good as you could expect". Sarah filled out the backing throughout the night quite magnificently on the electric piano and Clare's saxophone solo was every bit as good as the original 1981 single. Hazel's voice remains as haunting as it was.

But it wasn't the only reminder of those wild punk rock days. Eighth Day and D Days, everyone singing along to the former and spellbound by an excellent arrangement of the latter whilst Hazel's delivery and swinging arms took us back to... can it really be 30 years ago???

Swing arrangements, a healthy dose of jazz, blues, a cover of Snow Patrol's Chasing Cars and a stunning version of the Four Tops classic Do What You Gotta Do - which Hazel said she had first heard as the B side of Nina Simone's hit Ain't Got No/I Got Life. I never knew that! It is however my favourite Four Tops song of all time.

And my sad realisation is that nobody under the age of 30 will know what a "B side" is...

A special mention to a great support act: Tensheds

Fabulous night! There are still more dates on the tour and I'll tell you what - I'd go again!


1 comment:

  1. Hello, the new Hazel O'Connor official website is :


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