GIG: “Am I The Same Girl”….. Mari Sings Dusty
DATE: Friday 2nd May 2014
VENUE: Cabaret Theatre, Hippodrome, Leicester Square, London
COST: £25
OUR VERDICT: Delightful

Having played the part of Dusty in a highly acclaimed stage show version back in 2000, we knew that Mari Wilson doing her own interpretations of Dusty songs was going to be a bit special. Where better to demonstrate this than the Hippodrome in Leicester Square in the West End of London. Formerly known as The Talk of the Town, this was the venue where Dusty played record-breaking seasons back in the 60’s.

It’s been re-furbished since those days, and once we’d made our way through the casino part of the building, we took our seats in splendid Cabaret Theatre.  Billed as “Am I The Same Girl…Mari Sings Dusty,” the stage was all set for what must have been a nervous night for Mari.

The nerves weren’t showing though. Mari sashayed on-stage as her four piece band played the Northern Soul-ish “Am I The Same Girl,” Dusty’s last UK chart hit in the 60’s. Mari has a knack of wearing genuine vintage clothes and making them look contemporary and just right for her. Her purple dress really looked as if it had been designed with this venue in mind.

“Goin’ Back” and “How Can I Be Sure” have been regulars in Mari’s repertoire for some time, so there was no way they’d be left out of this show.  Alistair Gavin played a particularly nice piano on “How Can I Be Sure.”

No one in the audience had failed to take note of Jody and her colourful performances on percussion. It’s hard to remember seeing someone so “in the moment” for as long as Jody was. Her facial expressions as she banged her beat-box and waved her various shakers and rattles throughout the night were pretty memorable.

Apart from the music, Mari is also a great raconteur and never fails to entertain an audience with her vignettes from her family life, or show business. Tonight was no exception.
Paul on guitar really came to the fore on “Son Of A Preacher Man”. This was also a great example of Mari making a Dusty song her very own. “I Close My Eyes” has Mari sounding as if she really lives the song, much the same as Roy Orbison used to do. Very emotional.

After a short break Mari was back with a change of dress, and a jazzy version of “Little by Little”. Another show-stopper of a performance on guitar. The audience reaction to “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” was joyous. We heard “Spooky” a couple of weeks ago when it was just Mari and a piano. This sultry version with the band was stunning.

The very un-PC lyrics of “Some Of Your Lovin’” took a humourous pasting from Mari. Burt Bacharach was never far away from the night’s performance, and one again Jody added so much to Mari’s own interpretation of “24 Hours From Tulsa”.

Paul on bass really shone when it came to Marvin Gaye’s “Can I Get A Witness”. This was such a great high energy way to finish the gig, and highlighted just how good this band is. Of course we had an encore, and having tried this out at the Dusty Day a few weeks ago, Mari really stunned the audience with her own beautiful and very personal interpretation of The Springfields’ “Island Of Dreams”.

Having triumphed with a fabulous show at the Hippodrome, Mari sashayed off to a reprise of “Am I The Same Girl”. Hopefully she’ll be able to take this show on the road at some point next year. Mari Sings Dusty…not to be missed. Oh, and an album would be rather nice too.

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