Review: Marc Almond, Ipswich Regent, October 14
©Archant Photographic 2009
Sumptuous strings heralded pop icon Marc Almond’s arrival onto the stage at the Regent on Saturday night.
He was in Ipswich to perform songs from his latest album ‘Shadows and Reflections’. A collection of 1960s’ undiscovered classics by, amongst others, Billy Fury, Bobby Darin and The Yard birds, along with a handful of new compositions.
Anyone familiar with Marc Almond’s work will know he favours the Torch Songs, the drama and the desire for every song to tell a story. And so it was on Saturday night. To this end Marc was accompanied by a magnificent orchestra that perfectly reproduced the lush, sweeping sound of 60s’ baroque pop.
Dipping into his back catalogue, for the first time in the evening, Marc introduced a sumptuous version of “The Days of Pearly Spencer” with the line ‘60s’ songs have been good to me’.
The song brought a small crowd to the front of the stage expecting the momentum to continue and the hits to keep on coming. But it wasn’t that kind of show and as Marc remarked humorously “You’ll be sorry you’ve stood up as there are loads of depressing ballads before we get to anything resembling a hit.”
He was true to his word - going straight into Bobby Vinton’s “Blue on blue” and then onto a deeply personal original composition “Embers”.
This led to a situation where Marc spoke to a couple who’d been chatting at the front of the stage and told them, in no uncertain terms, to leave the gig or at least that part of the theatre.
It was an uncomfortable moment although Marc certainly had the audience on his side.
He followed this kerfuffle with a storming cover of “Something’s got a Hold of My Heart” - and we all moved on – with Marc guaranteed to have everyone’s undivided attention for the rest of the evening.
Another original song – “No One to Say Goodnight to” broke the rule that playing new tunes at a live show is a mistake; both intimate and epic it wouldn’t have been out of place in a Sondheim musical – a real treat.
Despite the prevalence of songs from the new album and more recent releases we weren’t denied the old favourites.
It was a well-judged moment two thirds of the way through the show to change the pace and let rip with the hits. “Jacky” followed “Torch” and then, introducing ‘A Northern Soul rave up’, we even got a few minutes of “Tainted Love”. Still sounding fresh and original “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye” fittingly closed the show.
A fascinating and eclectic evening and proof that, as Marc had said earlier, “he’s still got it after forty years in the business.”