GIG: Dusty Day
DATE: Sunday 13th April 2014
VENUE: West 5, Popes Lane, Ealing
COST: £15.00
OUR VERDICT: “Something Special”

Dusty Day is an annual get together of all things Dusty Springfield, organised and run by the boundless energy of Simon Bell, long time backing singer for Dusty and now with the James Last Orchestra. The event raises loads of money for the Royal Marsden, and today was no exception with almost £4K being raised. The afternoon schedule was a mixture of live performances and chat/mingling, along with a raffle and an auction and included many famous faces, including Michelle Collins, ex-Eastender, Corrie actress and a Wilsation from Mari Wilson’s 80’s group, Mari Wilson herself, Madeline Bell and Julie Felix who were all very generous with their time, mingling with everyone and having their pictures taken.

The Beeb with his two M&Ms - Mari and Michelle

 The minute we walked through the door, although obvious that many of those present were long-time friends and this an annual party for them, we were made to feel very welcome, given badges with our names on them so people knew who they were talking to, and before long were chatting away to Trudy and Pat, obvious devoted fans that were happy to share their recollections of Dusty with us.

Martyna Wren
There was a small stage set up and before long, the entertainment started, kicking off with a young 60’s influenced Martyna Wren who started with a great rendition of Goffin & King’s “Oh No Not My Baby” and followed up with “Wishin’ and Hopin’”. That got the afternoon off to a good start.

Mari Wilson
Mari Wilson has a great pedigree of Dusty related projects. Indeed she was Dusty in the West End show in early Noughties and is due to embark on a Dusty tribute series of shows around the UK soon, doing a taster show at London’s Hippodrome on May 2nd. Mari is very comfortable behind the mic, and with ex-Wilsation, Alastair Gavin tinkling the keyboard, she effortlessly enthralled us with “Spooky”, a cracking version of “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” which sent goosebumps down Minty’s spine it was that good, and then rounded her 3 song set off with a fantastic version of The Springfields’ “Island of Dreams” which drew a standing ovation. She really made it her own. An inspired choice and great arrangement. There was an audible gasp from many in the room as that final song started – it seems that it had not been performed live at one of these shindigs before. Mari was certainly on form. It’s not easy to pick just three songs to captivate an audience, but Mari managed to do just that.

The audience were hushed once again, as 60’s folk icon, Julie Felix, with her acoustic guitar gave us one of her own songs and then did “24 Hours from Tulsa”. She finished her set with Madeline Bell joining her on stage, and together they did a wee medley of “Goin’ Back” and “Son of a Preacher Man”.
Julie Felix & Madeline Bell

Madeline, herself an ex-backing singer with Dusty who went on to join Blue Mink, did ”A House Is Not a Home”, accompanied by Ian Shaw on keyboard. There was no need for her to be mic’d up, her voice is that strong and powerful. She was a great bundle of energy on the stage and also dueted with Simon Bell for “Let It Be Me”.

There were many lots for auction and a table full of raffle prizes and our fear that both auction and raffle would be long drawn out tedious affairs were not realised, as both went quick and smoothly. The Beeb even won a raffle prize, and picked a Springfields vinyl album. 

The Beeb with his raffle prize
 There was more music from Ian Shaw on keyboards, who also accompanied Simon Bell on a rendition of Gershwin’s “Someone To Watch Over Me” and also jazz musician, and power-house of a singer, Liane Carroll who did “How Can I Be Sure”.

A highlight of the day for The Beeb, was getting Madeline Bell to sing-a-long with him, the "Cookability" British Gas advert that she was responsible for on TV for years.

The afternoon was wrapping up at that point so we headed home. It was a great way to spend an afternoon.

The Beeb meets Madeline Bell