It was my friend Dave who introduced me to the music of Madeleine Peyroux a few months ago when he gave me a copy of an album of hers called Keep Me In Your Heart For A While, The Best Of Madeleine Peyroux which I really enjoyed. I was especially taken by her versions of songs by Bob Dylan & Leonard Cohen. I also really liked her voice which reminded me of Billie Holiday. When I saw that she was to appear at the Forum in Bath as part of the annual Bath Festival I knew we had to go.
It was a nice sunny Saturday evening when we boarded the 5.48 train at Westbury for the short journey to Bath. The city was bustling with people out enjoying the nice weather and we had time for a quick drink in a pub called The Cork. Sitting outside the pub I thought that I should come to Bath more often as it is such a nice place, especially in the summer. Then it was time to make our way to the Forum which is fast becoming my favourite music venue in the area after seeing the likes of Patti Smith, Richard Thompson, Kate Rusby and quite a few others here over the last few years. There was quite a long queue to get in because of the increased security measures following the tragic event in Manchester a few days earlier.
The opening act was a jazz fusion guitarist called John Etheridge. He is known for being a member of Soft Machine and has worked with the likes of Stephane Grappelli and many others. I thought I might find him a bit boring because really I like songs, but I was pleasantly surprised because I really got into his music. The first tune he played was a Sonny Rollins composition called Doxy which I wasn’t all that enamoured with but the second number was a Charles Mingus tune called Goodbye Pork Pie Hat which apparently was written in tribute to Lester Young. I really enjoyed this one and closed my eyes and just listened to Mingus, mellow, fantastic. Then he changed guitars to one that he had adapted and it was amazing because it sounded like bass and guitar combined. I didn’t recognise the tune but Dave told me it was called Stormy Weather. John finished his enjoyable short set with a really nice South African tune but I have no idea what it was called.
The interval seemed to last for ages. I went outside for a cigarette and took a photo of the tour bus to pass the time. Then finally it was time for Madeleine. As well as singing, she also played guitar and ukulele and was ably assisted by John Harrington on guitar and Barak Mory on upright bass. As I have said, I only have one album by Madeleine so I didn’t recognise all the songs so I’ll just tell you about the ones I did know. The first song was called Fun Out Of Life which I believe is a Billie Holiday song which suits Madeleine perfectly. I didn’t know the second song in which she pretended to sing into a telephone but it showed that she is a very humorous lady and also she doesn’t think much of Donald Trump. ( Who does?) This was followed by Tango Till They’re Sore in which the bass played used a bow on his instrument to great effect. Madeleine said she only sang three kinds of songs which were about Love, Blues & Drinking and the next song was about all three. It was called Guilty and in the lyrics she sang, ‘ I can’t stand myself’ which reminded me of a Van Morrison lyric. One of my favourite songs of the evening followed which was Our Lady Of Pigalle and Madeleine played ukulele on that one. I didn’t know either of the next two songs, one of them was in French but very enjoyable and the other was for people who felt that their vote didn’t count for anything. This was followed by a brilliant version of The Beatles It’s Getting Better which she said was the only cheerful song she was going to sing.
Other songs which I enjoyed were Easy Come, Easy Go which I think might be a Bessie Smith song,Trampin’ which was great and a song which was based on a poem by Lynton Kwesi Johnson that Maddy had put music to. Shout Sister Shout was dedicated to all the women in the audience. Every Thing I Do Gohn Be Funky From Now On was originally a song by Lee Dorsey I believe but Madeleine's version is great. She sang a love song in Brazilian-Portuguese, I haven’t got a clue what it is called but it sounded wonderful. Leonard Cohen’s Dance Me To The End Of Love was fabulous as was Careless Love which brought a wonderful concert to an end.
I wanted to buy Madeleine’s most recent album called Secular Hymns but I was amazed to find that there was no merchandise stall in the foyer which is most unusual at a concert these days. Anyway, we grabbed a quick drink in the pub opposite the station and caught the 10.38 train home. Thank you very much Bath Forum, John Etheridge,John Harrington, Barak Mory and most of all Madeleine Peyroux for a great night out in Bath.