“I’m in a good mood, even if you’re not”, declared Elkie Brooks to an initially unreceptive audience at the New Theatre in Hull, last night, upon receiving a rather lacklustre response to her question on how long it had been since the British Queen of Blues last visited the city.
The audience of a certain age that had turned out for Brooks were a little slow to settle into the performance. But as Brooks, one of Britain’s most successful female singers, launched into some of her most recognisable hits, they were soon easily won over. Her piercing voice, which remains pitch-perfect even five decades after she started singing, and endless smiles into the crowd, soon had the room eating out of the palm of her hand.
The first half included some of Brooks’ best-known hits, such as Fool If You Think It’s Over, Sunshine After the Rain, and Lilac Wine, the final song before the interval.
The second half saw a much rockier selection of songs performed by Elkie and the five musicians who joined her on stage. Any members of the audience yet to be won over by Brooks were soon appeased with the opening line of her biggest hit, Pearl’s A Singer.
The final song before the encore, another extended bluesy rocker, saw the 69 year old completely blow the room away, as she held a staggeringly high note for almost a minute, before falling back into the song without missing a beat or falling out of key. After a spontaneous round of applause from a now captivated audience, Brooks strode across the front of the stage with an air of confidence that would make Mick Jagger proud.
A cliché it may be, but Brooks has aged like a fine wine. She mentioned during the show that she has contemplated plastic surgery, before adding that when you are nearly 70, you “couldn’t give a flying s***!”
The encore included two fine ballads from her current album, Powerless, closing with a cover of Prince’s Purple Rain, and We’ve Got Tonight, earning her a complete standing ovation.
There are not many singers who actually sound better live than on record, but Brooks is part of that very rare breed who does. Unaided by any vocal enhancement, she still possesses the vibrato and sheer power that places her among one of Britain’s all-time greatest female singers.
Gig date: October 8