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Review: Books, Theatre, Movies, Albums & Gigs.

An Evening with Barbara Dickson – The Words Unspoken Tour

Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

Saturday March 19th, 2011

Band: Barbara Dickson, Troy Donockley, Nick Holland, Brad Lang, Russell Field.

Running Time: 2 hrs 20 mins

Barbara Dickson live in concert

Barbara Dickson – actor, singer, musician but, ultimately, performer – still knows how to deliver a damn good show. With a sprinkling of tracks from her latest album, Words Unspoken (Greentrax), that is in itself one of exceptional variance and beauty, and a mixture of hits such as January / February which opened the show, this was set to be as heart warming and evocative a night as anybody in the sell out audience could wish for.

Yet to create a sound that can do justice to this magnificent hall takes a band of exceptional talent and, in Troy Donockley playing lead and acoustic guitar as well as Uilleann Pipes, Bouzouki, varying flutes and whistles and also supplying backing vocals, Dickson has clearly struck gold and cool melodious Celtic folk soon rides through the air with calm assurance. Jamie Raeburn may be a song about transportation to the colonies, but it is also heart-wrenchingly poignant when played with such authority.


As is The Trees They Do Grow High on which Nick Holland’s keyboards and backing vocals come to the fore, imperiously backed by the solid and distinctive bass provided by Brad Lang throughout, but particularly here. Lang also excels during a Willy Russell section which sees Easy Terms and Tell Me It’s Not True from Blood Brothers given a dusting down so that they sparkle afresh.

This wouldn’t be a Liverpool gig without a nod to The Beatles and Dickson provides it with George Harrison’s If I Needed Someone from the Beatles covers album of 1996, Nothing’s Going To Change My World. Indeed, there are nods to the talent of many legends. James Taylor’s Millworker and Simon & Garfunkle’s Bridge Over Troubled Water are both delivered with tremendous emotion, but perhaps the most haunting  “tribute” is that given to Over My Head, written by the recently and sadly passed Gerry Rafferty which is, quite simply, sublime.

Looking relaxed whether singing and playing guitar, seated behind keyboards or just standing with a microphone in her hand,  she is clearly enjoying herself and comfortable in her position centre stage, as the songs keep coming.

Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know sees the song being taken to a whole new level, whereas My Donald is an intensely rich, velvety dark chocolate of a song that lingers long in the mind. When added to the Scottish myth recounted through King Orfeo, what results is a tapestry of rhyme and rhythm so diverse, and yet so well focussed, it almost defies description.

I know Him So Well closes the show proper on such a high unmatchable in any encore. Yet, as the quintet come back out and as the star takes her place in the beam of a single white spot, so do chills race across the spine as Will Ye Gang Love?  echoes through the hall.
Intense vocalisation demands the audience’s every nerve be honed into Dickson’s passion for the song and, when at its end, the band kick in with such an intensely powerful musical finish – led from the back by the energy of the faultless Russell Field on drums and percussion – it is genuinely breathtaking when the song draws to an end with a flourish.

This is entertainment at it very best and, as the final strains of Caravans dwindle and die on the air, the audience leaps to it’s feet in utter admiration for the manner in which Barbara Dickson – actor, singer, musician but, ultimately, performer – has whisked them away to a place of musical serenity.  It’s been two years since she graced the stage of the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, but let’s hope its not so long until she does so again, for this was a quite magnificent night for music, delivered by a star and a band of quite majestic proportions.

Chris High




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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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