GIG: Mari Wilson
DATE: Saturday 5th March
VENUE: The Old Town Hall, High Street, Hemel Hempstead
COST: £14 (and that’s it, no booking fee, no postage charge.... (YES they post the tix out and cover the cost themselves!)
OUR VERDICT: Brill, glam, terrific
The Old Town Hall is an intimate venue and is a great place to catch Mari Wilson up close and personal. She appeared on stage wearing a fab gold and black dress, long gloves and adorable open toed stillettos and kicked off with “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” recorded by Mari as the theme to the hit BBC comedy “Coupling”. Straight away we were captivated. Although we have seen Mari perform the songs in her set a few times, they never seem to age or get tired.
Tonight the 1st set repertoire also included a lovely “My Love” (which had a gentle guitar solo from Scott Firth), the fantastic cover of The Beach Boys’ “Disney Girls”, “Would You Dance with A Stranger” and Mari’s own compositions with her musical collaborator Adrian York, “Killing Time” & “Hits And Misses”, which is like an old classic you have known forever. Interspersed through the music were many whimsical tales from her time in the music business. She’s turning into Billy Connolly when he was in The Humblebums.... telling as many funny stories as singing songs!
The penultimate song of the first set was a great audience participation version of “Close To You,” before a knock-out “I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten”, her favourite song from when she starred as Dusty in the musical a few years ago.
The 2nd half (with a change of outfit, rounded off perfectly with a dazzling pair of high heeled mules), included a terrific rendition of “Be My Baby” with Adrian York tinkling the ivories, “Wild Horses” that worked really well with the piano and acoustic guitar and a cover of Peggy Lee’s “I Don’t Want To Play In your Yard” which had a lovely bit of a spanish guitar flair on it. We were also treated to another set of compositions by Mari and Adrian, “Forever Young”, “Right For You” and “Getting There” from her “Emotional Glamour” and “Dolled Up” albums.
The encore was “Cry Me River” with Mari sounding really strong and the the grand finale - the hit she will be remembered most for “Just What I Always Wanted”. There was no Taffeta dress tonight, but we got a great set of songs that really showed off Mari’s sensational voice.
It was a particularly good audience in the Old Town Hall tonight, and it didn’t take much encouragement to get everyone singing along when called to do so.