Stacey Kent stopped off at The Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh tonight as part of her 2017 tour, and for any lover of laid back jazz, love songs and more than a little Brazilian rhythm this show was a treat as Stacey and the band – Jim Tomlinson (saxes, flutes), Graham Harvey (piano, fender), Jeremy Brown (bass) and Josh Morrison (drums) - were not only on great form, but so obviously enjoying the music and playing to a very appreciative audience.
This show features songs old, new and still to be recorded, and takes us on an eclectic musical journey through the great songbooks of American, British, French and Brazilian composers. Stacey Kent has a huge love of music, lyrics, jazz and love songs, and Brazilian composers and music take up a large part of that love, and the sheer pleasure through her music of not only being able to meet some of her musical heroes like Marcos Valle and Roberto Menescal, but also to perform and record with them is obvious as the songs are performed.
Stacey Kent as a performer brings not only impeccable phrasing and timing to any song that she sings, but also a very fragile quality to her performance. There is somehow that elusive essence of being young of heart and spirit that is captured on-stage. Stacey Kent is also one of the few artists I have seen performing that knows how to use silence in a performance, how to say nothing but at the same time convey a lot of emotion in that silent space. Stacey has that rare ability to bring the lyrics of a song to life and make the listener feel as if they are walking with her through the world of that song, and performances of classics like “The Very Thought of You” and “If I’m Lucky” are great examples of this gift. The writing partnership between Jim Tomlinson and novelist Kazuo Ishiguro (“The Remains of The Day” and many other classic novels) has provided Stacey with a rich vein of beautiful songs with carefully constructed lyrics that evoke real pictures made out of words when you hear them. One such song “The Bullet Train” is a wonderful example of the skill of this song-writing duo and also of Stacey’s ability to breathe real life into words.
Simply a classic performance from one of the great emotive interpreters of any song, but particularly a love song.
My thanks also for help in this review to my guest at this show with me, one of Scotland’s best jazz vocalists and song-writers – Lorna Reid. Thank you Lorna for your insights as a song-writer and performer into some aspects of Stacey Kent’s performance that I might otherwise have overlooked.
Review by Tom King