Alison Moyet

Alison Moyet

Perth Concert Hall

Loading article content

When Alison Moyet released The Minutes last year, there was almost universal praise for her return to electronica.

Since she first combined the warmth of that glorious voice with more sterile instrumentation in the early 1980s, there have been 20 million record sales, years of agoraphobia, and battles with a record company that wanted more of the same.

Like many artists who have great success but no appetite for the fame aspect of being a musician, she walked away and decided to follow her heart.

Tonight she is flanked by just John Garden and Sean McGhee. Individually these are impressive one-man bands, but together they provide her with a two-man orchestra. Her imposing 5ft 10ins frame is encased in a simple black shirt and trousers, with most of the subdued lighting on her face. There is little to detract from that voice and the songs.

Alternating songs from The Minutes with the hits was a masterstroke and testament to the quality of the new material, some infused with her Gallic heritage. It's not difficult to imagine her as a chanteuse, walking over rainsoaked Parisian cobbles, until her broad Essex tones come in with a jolly "thank youuuua!".

There's no compromise in including the hits. Singles such as Is This Love? are given an update that never strays too far from the original with Only You given a slightly darker, bleaker edge that would never have been acceptable to the pop muffins of 1981. The final encore turned the concert hall into a 1980s disco with Don't Go - a title that echoed the sentiment of everyone in the audience.

The Magic Flute

English Touring Opera

Perth Concert Hall

With Perth Theatre undergoing refurbishment until 2017, English Touring Opera has moved from its traditional Perth Festival home to the nearby concert hall.

It's the first time the festival has used the hall's orchestra pit; as it turned out, to great effect. The orchestra sounded rich and full and the music soared, but the hall's superb acoustics had a downside. With a wooden set on several levels connected by stairs, there was a fair amount of clomping.

Although it contains some of opera's best-known characters, ETO's production of Mozart's final opera, in which librettist Schikaneder created a fantastical tale of the search for love and happiness, has succeeded through being an ensemble success. However, Wyn Pencarreg as Papageno deserves to be singled out for a rounded comic performance with excellent singing, while Samantha Hay's Queen Of The Night aria is as spine-tingling as ever.

Perhaps it's personal preference but the success of opera can be about context. This is a highly stylised production, with sumptuous costumes, although the choice of pale-green coats and orange wigs for the three boys is reminiscent of Willy Wonka's Oompah Loompahs.

Although dark and clean, the set is designed ingeniously. The rich blue and soft lighting worked better with the more traditional Perth Theatre interior when the previous version of this production was there in 2009.

However, there's little doubt the move for 2014 was largely a success, but if the auditorium of Perth Theatre is restored as well as is planned, it might still provide a better aesthetic setting for productions as rich as this.

Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra

Perth Concert Hall

There's a scene in the 1980s movie 9½ weeks when Kim Basinger looks into Mickey Rourke's wardrobe and sees multiple copies of the same suit and shirt.

It must be the same for Jools's missus - black suits, black shirts. Nothing else. Tonight, like so many aspects of the show, his attire is no surprise. The fact my mind is drifting to Mr Holland's wardrobe isn't an indication that what's happening on stage isn't entertaining - it's a hard-hearted soul who wouldn't get caught up in the carnival atmosphere. However, there's no fear of drifting off and missing something new. It's harsh to say it's formulaic - after all, what's wrong with a formula if it's what an audience is hoping to see?

The difference comes with the guest vocalists - at the moment it's Marc Almond and Mel C.

There's no big band Wannabe, and while Almond leaves Jacques Brel alone thankfully, he does give us Tainted Love and Say Hello Wave Goodbye, while C (ahem, Chisholm) avoids her sporty stuff but among her mini set is Never Gonna Be The Same and a stonking version of Stevie Wonder's I Wish - where the horns really come alive.

Ruby Turner is back as Jools's "queen of boogie woogie", with the usual vocal histrionics of Peace In The Valley closing the main show. This show has become a staple of Perth Festival, with many people paying an annual fee to be a Friend of the Festival, allowing them to buy tickets for Jools before they go on general sale.

Crowd favourite Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think) didn't make an appearance until the final encore, but no matter, it was a done deal by then.