Monday, September 18, 2006

Lady sings the blues 

Hands up who remembers Elkie Brooks? She had a few hits in the seventies ( Pearl’s a singer, Lilac Wine, etc) and if you didn’t know better and heard she was still performing now, you’d be forgiven for imagining she’d be clinging desperately to those old moments of stardom, her voice just a thin shadow of its former richness, and filling out the gaps in the programme by doing covers of old favourites.

If you thought that, you couldn’t be more wrong. This lady is one powerful singer, writing and singing maybe the best songs she’s ever written. Singing classic blues with power and passion and an utterly engaging presence; I for one fell under her spell from the moment the curtains parted.

Image - taken just last month - courtesy of www.elkie-brooks.com

We heard her on Saturday at our local theatre. Wait… rewind… a singer who plays to thousands in major venues booked to sing to a full house of 400? Yup, and clearly loving every minute of it.

You’d have smiled if you’d seen the band; every inch the ageing rockers, complete with long curly hair, black waistcoats with no shirt and middle-aged spreads. Take a look here, but don’t be fooled by appearances. These guys are no slouches and could teach many a modern band a thing or three. A two hour show and not a single dud number the whole time.

Image courtesy of www.elkie-brooks.com

When we got home I checked out her biography. I was stunned to find she’s 61; technically speaking, that makes her an Old Age Pensioner. *Raps knuckles on head in puzzlement… inconsistent data… doesn’t compute…* - a great figure, a voice you could pave your drive with (well, actually it wasn’t quite that gravelly; I just like the metaphor)… and she’s 61????

She turns the conventional notion of ageing on its head. Forty five years in the business and not only is she still going strong, she’s still maturing as a singer/songwriter and gives the distinct feeling that the best is yet to come. And here I am, looking ahead (without much enthusiasm) to the downhill run to retirement. Makes you think…

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