WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE: Islington Assembly Hall
WHEN: 14/11, tour runs to 3/12
SETLIST: Rebellion; Say I’m Not Alone; Maybe I Should Run; Love Me; I’m Over You/If I Had You/Talking In My Sleep (medley); Archive; Stay With Me; Cry A Little; Paradise; On the Radio; Any Sign Of Life; Perfect Moment; Rosanna
Martine McCutcheon dissolves into tears as her biggest hit is received rapturously by her most ardent fans at the close of this come back show’s encore.
- Read on for reasons including why this was the pivotal moment in McCutcheon’s music career
She glances at her husband, singer-songwriter Jack McManus (on the keyboards in the picture above), who has been onstage with her throughout this gig, and is immediately reassured.
‘As you can see I’m quite emotional,’ she tells the 176-strong audience in this boutique venue. ‘I could run off in tears but I’m going to stay with you and party. We’re going to play a song we haven’t rehearsed.’
If you’re looking for a gig’s pivotal moment – and perhaps even a career’s – this is it.
We last saw McCutcheon in My Fair Lady in 2002 when she won an Olivier Award. It was the year also when her last album, Musicality, was released.
She talks a lot during this hour-plus-long gig and it’s clear that writing new album Lost And Found, a top 20 hit this summer, has been a real therapy for her.
She tells us that it was her husband who encouraged her to write about how she felt, to pursue music for the love of it and the reward is an intensely personal album of Texas-like anthems which fit perfectly on Radio 2 and are a world away from the pop with which she made her name. Appropriate, because of the gap between her late 90s launch and where she finds herself in 2017.
Initially the audience is bewitched and reverential and it is not until penultimate hit cover On The Radio, introduced as ‘a song from Soho in the late 90s or early 00s’, that the audience rises to its feet into disco frenzy.
McCutcheon describes herself as a storyteller and what is perhaps most enjoyable about her committed performance is the way she sells those songs but also what a classic, rich and expressive voice she has.
She’s using all her musical theatre skills to tell us why she hasn’t released an album for 15 years. The key lyric comes during Maybe I Should Run: ‘Maybe I should stop trying so damn hard to change your mind, maybe I should just change mine?’
For us, Lost And Found is one of our favourite albums of the year. We weren’t sure what to expect from this gig. But it was an absolute triumph and we wouldn’t be surprised if McCutcheon didn’t embark on a lengthier jaunt early next year.
Cut back to the end of the gig and McCutcheon is explaining the choice of Rosanna by Toto to close. ‘Not bad for a Tuesday night?’ she beams. Indeed.