From the very first note she sang it was clear that those of us lucky enough to be in the audience at the Plough Arts Centre, Torrington last night were about to experience two hours of the most sublime singing from Stacey Kent along with husband, composer, producer and saxophonist Jim Tomlinson and backed by an accomplished trio on piano, bass and drums.
Never knowing whether an artist performing live will match up to the expectations created by recordings, I have to say a shiver went down my spine in these opening seconds and on other occasions during this performance.
The set list was broad and varied from American show standards, such as ‘Easy to Remember’ and ‘If I were a Bell’, to the Latin ‘Samba Saravah’ and ‘Corocovado’.
The sign of a great performer is the appearance of effortless and Stacey made every song sound so easy with her perfect vocal control and diction a joy to hear. Another accomplishment is her ability to create her own version of songs, such as ‘Surrey with the Fringe on Top’ and ‘What a Wonderful World.’
Much of the material was from Stacey’s most recent album, ‘Breakfast on the Morning Tram’ including the title track as well as ‘I wish I Could go Travelling Again’ and, one of my favourite numbers of the night, ‘The Ice Hotel’. Jim got an opportunity to shine with an instrumental version of the theme from ‘Alfie’.
Songs were interspersed with Stacey’s often rambling, bubbly accounts of her life, experiences of recording, learning Portuguese, her new album currently being recorded and lots more. I’m certain the audience could have sat entranced for another two hours as the time passed so fast.
Did the night live up to its promise? With a mix of American, Latin, French and Portuguese songs all performed with enthusiasm, sensitivity and emotion, I’d say it did. I’ll definitely look out for future performances in North Devon.