After the high-octane experience of 150-odd people being served a three course meal, the fabulous pianist Adrean Farrugia started up a bluesy groove. He was joined by the statuesque Ali Hughes. Her three-song set certainly engaged the audience. Leonard Cohen’s lyrics were excellently sung over reworked music. His grand statements on Women, Love and God left an undeniable mark.
But there’s also a place in music for everyday experience and the magic it contains. Jane Siberry came on with a charisma reminiscent of English punk front woman Vi Subversa and an originality not unlike Toronto bass-and-voice performer Catherine Phillips.
Siberry talked between the songs about her soon-to-be-over tour, in particular the inspiring people she has observed rising above incredible stress to speak gently to their children and stay ‘in the moment’. She also talked IN the songs. There was what I assumed was a role playing moment when she depicted a woman who really wanted a plush car with heated seats but couldn’t afford it and felt guilty about it. A heartbreaking song about attempting to euthanize a mouse that had been poisoned hopefully encouraged those present to cultivate compassion for animals.
The musicianship (as it has been for 35 years now) in this one-woman-show was top class. The singing was beautifully expressive and assured, whether in chest or head voice, using vibrato or even pitch. There was pleasing sustain and effective glissando too, the latter being a Siberry trademark.
Over on the piano, Siberry regaled us with a tale of flirting with a married man who had a condition which required him to wear a nappy (though that didn’t make him any less desirable). Her thick theatrical make-up helped her play the clown.
Three of her most well-known songs, ‘Love is Everything’, ‘Mimi on the Beach’ and ‘Calling All Angels’ were included but the set seemed to feature predominantly recent compositions. Another aspect of Siberry’s class was that she wasn’t plugging any products; in fact, I couldn’t see any CDs at the merchandise stand at all .
It was all about an artist communicating their individual humanity to others and fortunately, as Jane commented, no-one was checking their emails. Now, that’s what she calls ‘social nourishment’.