Mari Wilson

DATE: Saturday September 5th 2009
VENUE: Pizza On The Park, 11 Knightsbridge, London, SW1
COST: £15 (plus the cost of your dinner)
RATING: Glammed Up

Another gig, another Wilson. This time it wasn’t a well known sweaty Rock and Roll venue, but the sensational Mari Wilson in the more intimate and up market Pizza On The Park in Knightsbridge, London. The Beeb even wore his glad rags and not a T shirt for this outing!
The signs for the way the evening was going to go started with us being able to park the car right next to the venue. Not often that happens in this part of the town. When we went downstairs and were shown to our table in front of the stage we knew we were in for a treat. Great seats.

The venue is very reminiscent of Ronnie Scott’s club in a way. Intimate and friendly. Service was very swift and we had our meals scoffed and were licking our lips before the show started.

It surprised us to realise it had been over a year since we had seen Mari perform. Last time was with a full band line up during a long UK tour, this time it was just Mari and her musical partner Adrian York on piano. Mari always looks nothing less that totally glamorous and tonight was no exception. She just LOOKS like a star!

The show kicked off with her cover of the old Doris Day hit, “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps,” that you may know as the theme tune from the TV show “Coupling.” A new song in the set was McCartney’s “My Love.” On the record the guitar instrumental is one of the Beeb’s all time spine tingling favourites, and he was worried how this was going to work with just a piano. No need to worry, Adrian carried it off with his own sublime take of it. It worked very well indeed.

Mari has been working on a one woman musical show for a while now, and she treated us to some songs from it. “Hits and Misses” is a clever, infectious little song that will stick in your head. “Killing Time” isn’t what you would call a chirpy pop song. In writing a song like this, Mari has obviously dug deep from a pool of sadness somewhere along the road. What it does show is the twists and turns that the musical could take.

“Goody Goody” gave Adrian the chance to show off his best boogie-woogie skills.

And then a treat, Bruce Johnston’s “Disney Girls” was back in the set for tonight’s performance. Mari sings this song so well; you can close your eyes and just imagine you are back in 50’s America, sitting on the porch with ‘mom” and ‘pop’ and Junior having to do his chores.

One of the great things about a Mari gig is her little vignettes about her life and life in general. Having been living in Los Angeles for the past couple of months there was a wealth of ammunition in her cannon. Tales of jay-walking and 80 year olds in the gym had the audience grinning from ear to ear. She is such a natural entertainer on stage we won’t spoil you with her tales. It would be much better if you went along to hear them for yourself.

“Dance With A Stranger” was followed by a bit of audience participation on “Close To You,” before ending the first set with a powerful performance of “I Close My Eyes,” that she used to do when she starred in the musical “Dusty.”

With a quick change of clothes and a chance for some of the audience to finish off their puddings Mari was soon back on stage with “An Occasional Man,” and a lovely tribute to late Ellie Greenwich with her “Be My Baby,” followed by the old Anthony Newly song “Do You Mind.”

A firm favourite in Mari’s shows over the years has been Mick and Keef’s “Wild Horses.” Once again Adrian comes to the fore with a wonderful piano solo. It takes all that the Beeb has every time, not to sing along out loud on the chorus of this one. This is definitely one of the highlights of the show.

Another couple of songs from her up-coming show followed, one of which “Moving In,” all about a woman’s perspective of a guy moving in with her, had the Beeb really worried at one point! The other was a hilarious number called ‘Forever Young.” Both of these songs are on her latest album “Emotional Glamour,” that comes highly recommended by us.

Digging deep from that emotional well again, comes what could be Mari’s best ever vocal on record. “I’m Getting There” may be a song about believing the future will be better, but to believe that in the first place you think to yourself that she must have been down some dark, dangerous road in the first place. In the same way you believed Roy Orbison actually lived every word of every song he sang, one has the same feeling listening to Mari put herself through the wringer for this one. The record is great, but hearing her do it live is almost chilling.

“I Don’t Want To Play In Your Yard,” is a nostalgic little song from yonks ago that was dedicated to her old Dad. Last song of the set was a rousing “I Think I Love You,” and has Mari running round the stage like a whirlwind telling as many people in the audience that she can that she loves them!

Mari and Adrian then came back for the encore and treated us to a couple of her old hits, the gorgeous “Cry Me A River,” and of course “Just What I always Wanted.”

So finally, any apprehensions there may have been about not having a band with her were totally unfounded. What was shown was that the songs Mari chooses to sing are all so good, that they DO work stripped down to the bone. She picks some real gems to sing there’s no doubt, but the really interesting thing is that the songs she and Adrian have written really stand up alongside all those classics. This musical that Mari is working on really sounds like it could be a winner. The songs we heard from it are all so strong and vividly observed from life itself. We can’t wait till it’s finished.

Mari is back in London, this time at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, on 1st November, and has a couple of shows lined up in between. Check out her official website and Myspace page for more info

Pizza on the Park is a lovely venue. It’s not your usual Pizza Express where the wooden floors exacerbate the noise level of people chatting – it is softly carpeted and has a Grand Piano in the corner of the stage, and up-lighting illuminating the white curtain decorating the back of the stage. The tables are laid out so that everyone has a view of the stage, and the staff were mindful during the time Mari was on stage, holding back on taking / delivering food orders until the interval. Even the audience showed respect with total attention during the show – there were no side conversations that we have had to often ‘endure’ at other venues, while trying to take in the artist performing.

The loos? Well they were clean and well stocked, but only 2 cubicles which meant a bit of a queue….. Minty bets that the mens’ had more! The Beeb keeps his toilet secrets to his self!


  1. Well I can blow the lid off Beeb's toilet secret - there was in fact one cubicle! Gutted that Mari didn't do "Disney Girls" on the Friday night (when I went to see her!)

    Still, it was a FANTASTIC show, and I can't wait to see her again!

  2. Saw Mari Wilson many years ago live at Ronnie Scott's in London. Just perfect!!

    Best wishes, Ronald