Liane Carroll is my favourite singer. She epitomises everything I used to get out of theatre but, sadly, no longer do: an immediate and heartfelt connection to the audience, spontaneity, daring, truthfulness, ensemble playing, I could go on. Or, should I say, rarely get out of theatre, for gems like Pitlochry’s recent production of Scrooge! The Musical reacquainted me with the true power of catharsis that lies at the heart of all art forms and which I experienced in buckets and spades at last night’s gig. A process which the Oxford English Dictionary succinctly describes as “releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions”. Or as we say in Scotland: having a guid greet, then getting fou and unco happy.
Liane Carroll – who won Best Vocalist at the 2016 British Jazz Awards and whose album Seaside named after Joe Stilgoe’s beautiful ballad won Best New Album the year before – opened the 2017 season of the excellent 606 Club in Chelsea with fellow musicians Loz Garratt on bass/guitar and Ian Thomas on drums. Though not one to name drop (Mick Jagger warned her about the dangers of doing so!), she selfishly informed the jam-packed and cutlery-rattling crowd that the former plays regularly with luminaries such as Jamie Cullum (or as Loz puts it more colourfully on his Twitter account: “Spend my time at the bottom ends of @jamiecullum, @TheCanariesSing, @EllieRose_R and.. other stuff” and the latter worked with the late George Michael on a number of songs including Faith.
Onto the music… Three standouts: Shirley Horn’s signature tune Here’s To Life by Artie Butler and Phyllis Molinary which opened the second set; Mercy Now by American singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier which features on Liane’s recent album Seaside; and a poignant rendition of Tom Waits’ Picture In A Frame from her 2003 album Billy No Mates. An ironic title if ever there was one because, by the end of the gig, she had poured so much of her heart and soul into the songs that everyone in the intimate basement club felt as though they knew her. And when the 606 owner and renowned flautist Steve Rubie joined the excellent band on stage for two encores, the final track by Carole King said it all: You’ve got a friend!