Well, I may have been the DD (not – surprisingly, given how often she has crept up in jazz conversations recently – Doris Day, but the designated driver), but that didn’t stop me from having a great night at a new out-of-town venue for jazz in the west of Scotland.
The Weir, in Bridge of Weir outside Glasgow, looks like your average Scottish main street pub from the outside, but inside, the bistro part of the property looks like the sort of nightclub Doris, Rock and co frequented in those classic 1950s movies: all grey drapes, low lights and chic furnishings. But then, it is (once a month anyway) a jazz supper club..
My friend Jill and I made the journey out of town partly to check out this new venue, and support its laudible aim of bringing national as well as local jazz names to perform for a small audience (whose four-course dinner and a cocktail are included in the £25 ticket price), and largely because the star du jour was Liane Carroll, the ebullient English singer-pianist who had travelled up from the south coast to launch this new series.
And she certainly launched it in memorable style, serving up two sets that were characterised by her energy, passion and self-deprecating humour. To have had her perform as anything other than a solo act would have been considerably less effective – though the nook in which her mini upright piano was positioned did bear an unfortunate resemblance to a crematorium (curtains behind her, stained glass on two sides, big stands of funereal flowers) .. The presence of a couple of other musicians might have been better visually than the sight of Carroll looking like the organist at the crem, but it would surely have detracted a little from her performance and its spontaneity and intensity.
Any local who hadn’t known there was a soulful singer in town would have known it within seconds of Carroll casting off on a raucous, bluesy take on Cole Porter’s Love For Sale. And the football showing in the pub through the wall didn’t stand a chance against her dynamic and hard-swinging Let There Be Love.
Carroll may have pinched some of the great Julie London’s repertoire with No Moon At All and the lovely Gordon Jenkins’s ballad Goodbye but there is absolutely no similarity between the hushed, breathy, intimate London vocals and Carroll’s gutsy, no-holds-barred, no emotional stone unturned style of singing. Her Mad About the Boy had my companion in tears, while her interpretations of Tom Waits’s Take Me Home and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s If I Loved You threatened to have the same effect on me.
The evening ended with a good old singalong on a number that is impossible to take seriously since Rupert Everett’s now-iconic version in My Best Friend’s Wedding: I Say a Little Prayer for You. Coached by Carroll in our “X Factor gestures”, we were sent out into the night – and the drive home – on a high..
* The next jazz supper features The Marco Cafolla Trio with Stewart Forbes on October 30. For tickets, call 01505 228003 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s a video shot at Sunday’s concert – the lighting wasn’t very conducive to filming!