Hazel O’Connor – MEGA PLus tour, Oran mor
It was a Friday night after what could be described as a “challenging” week at work, in all honesty all I felt like doing was sitting on the sofa and drifting off to sleep in front of the TV.
But I had tickets to go and see Hazel O’Connor and had already missed a Waterboys gig I had tickets for last month so gave myself a shake and headed out.
The gig was in Oran Mor – a great venue that I hadn’t been to in ages (the last time was for Jason and the Scorchers 2, maybe 3 years ago.) The only problem in the West End is parking…..everywhere is residents only. Eventually we got parked up, after taking an aeon to pay for the meter on my phone – issues with Scottish voice recognition I think (cue references to ”eleven” lift sketch…) and headed into the venue.
As I say, great place but £6.10 for 2 soft drinks – what the hell is that all about?
These are Decadent Days…
Anyway, as soon as Hazel O’Connor hit the stage I was delighted I’d made the effort to come out. Opening with an energetic run-through of one of my favourite O’Connor tracks “D-Days” she set the tone for the evening.
Hazel was joined by brother Neil (ex of The Flys of “Love and a Molotov Cocktail” fame – unfortunately we didn’t get that tonight) on guitar and long term collaborators Claire on Sax (an ex Belle Star) and Sarah on keyboards (ex Eurythmic) and a tight rhythm section completing the lineup.
The night was billed as the “Mega Plus” tour featuring songs from her first 3 albums – Breaking Glass, Sons & Lovers and Cover Plus. With that myriad of tunes to pick from, it was bound to be a good night.
And so it played out – a nigh on 2 hour and 23 song set, with all the hits and highlights from the 3 albums. A dazzling night’s entertainment.
It’s hard to pick my own highlights from the set but “Will You?” complete with closing sax solo was pretty special.
However, I could go on – the powerful ska of “Blackman”, the protest of “Who Calls the Tune” (written about the controversial death of teacher Blair Peach during anti-racism demonstrations). “If Only”, “Monsters in Disguise”. The searing commentary on she who will not be named who ran the country at the time of writing the song (but equally as valid today with the idiots in power in the UK and USA – “old pumpkin face”), “Big Brother”, “Writing on the Wall”, “The Zoo”, “Come into the Air”, you get the picture…
As well as the cover in the encore, Hazel also treated us to her versions of Nina Simone’s “Do What you Gotta Do” (the first single she ever bought) and The Stranglers “Hanging Around” – which prompted a reminder of their hanging around outside in the cold waiting to play this as an encore when she played in support of Hugh Cornwell.
the Hits and more
As well as this recollection, throughout the evening Ms. O’Connor regaled us with more tales of her experiences over the years.
Some were humorous – from escaping some over-zealous fans in her home town in a 3 wheeler Reliant Robin – her mum only had a motorbike license to her inadvertent flashing during a standing ovation for “Breaking Glass” at Cannes.
Others were poignant – introducing “I Will Give You My Sunshine” written for her mother as a gift when she was in cancer hospice care.
Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end and so to set closer her “non-plastic paddy” version of “Danny Boy”. This segued into the triumphant “Eighth Day” before the band left the stage to rapturous applause before returning for her take on Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars”.
Post-gig Hazel appeared for a signing/photo call. It was as if the last 30 odd years hadn’t happened as the clamour and fervour from the (mainly over 40’s) crowd to see her at the end must have felt to her like the story she told of trying to escape enthusiastic fans back in the day!
All told a tremendous gig and due to venue curfews, all over by ten pm. Harking back to my shattered state before the gig, I was back home and falling asleep on the sofa by 10.30. I must be getting old….