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Hazel O Connor - Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, 30/10/2012

  by Dave Goodwin

published: 29 / 10 / 2012

Hazel O Connor - Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, 30/10/2012


Dave Goodwin watches 80's icon Hazel O' Connor play an enthralling set at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham

Back in the day, I was the epitome of the 80's child. Although money was tight in our house, I had all kinds of obscure stuff kicking around my room. I remember I'd been to town and bought an obscure 45 instead of Hazel O’Connor’s then hit, 'Eighth Day'. I can't for the life of me remember what it was, but the reason for buying it instead of ‘Eighth Day’ was ‘Breaking Glass’, the film that it came from and in which she starred. I knew I couldn't afford to go to the flicks to watch the film so I kind of blanked it altogether, eventually buying the video on Betamax which I never got chance to watch. I had this mate at the time though who was absolutely 100% into Hazel, and there wasn't a day went by without him letting me know what Hazel was up to, what she was wearing or where she had eaten the night before. He was a proper Hazel nut! The Rescue Rooms for me is a classy place. It's easy, laidback but if need be it gets busy with it and then the vibes multiply and spiral. Even before the support act came on, it had started to fill up and there was that vibe. The support act were worth the admission price on their own. Spaceships Are Cool are an amazingly multi-instrumental outfit of around eight, but today (due to the kit already on stage) they were just a three piece. They played a fantastic set, which they delivered in orange spacesuits. When Hazel came on, the Rescue Rooms were nearly full, and full of hard line Hazel fans. You could tell that each and every one had been there back in the day. When she graced the stage, the whole room erupted and quite unexpectedly, and Hazel looked slightly overwhelmed with the response. It didn’t take her long however to get into it. She started to break the applause and instantly you could see she had an issue with the lighting, which was only fair as she was singing in near darkness. Donning a LBD, wearing her hair in bunches with red scrunchies and sporting bright red lipstick, she almost looked quite vulnerable. Don't you believe it! Between songs Hazel directed John in the lighting box with what light to put on and when. She was a commanding presence who no-one was going to argue with! Many people would remember her for 'Breaking Glass' which was released in 1980, but Hazel was doing it way before then, first hitting the stage in the film 'Girls Come First' in 1975. Later after a journey that would take her through Amsterdam, Tokyo, Beirut, and across the Sahara Desert, her performance as Kate in ‘Breaking Glass’ won her the Variety Club of Great Britain Award for 'Best Film Actor'. Hazel today shows no sign of letting up. All her musical life experiences which span together over thirty singles and twenty albums in one guise or another stand her in good stead. She carried herself well. She was full of confidence, and further more had a singing voice that captivated and enthralled the audience. The crowd also adored her. The more I listened to Hazel sing tonight the more I realized what a wonderful voice she has. A couple of times she drifted into songs by Nina Simone, and it is strangely remarkable how close at times her voice is. Not perhaps in a note perfect way, but she has an uncanny likeness to her in a way that is hard to fathom. Hazel expertly directed us through tracks from all parts of her past – ‘Writing on the Wall’, Give Me An Inch’, a crowd-pleasing ‘D-Days’, a wonderfully emotional ‘Will You’, ‘Hanging Around’, ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Cover Plus’. Towards the end she gave us a great rendition of 'Eighth Day' and a Nina track before ending with a three-song encore which included for me the most emotional part of the set with a spine-tingling version of 'Chasing Cars'. All through the gig the crowd applauded and cheered and smiled. and Hazel responded, smiling and sweating even more as she continually directed the lighting guy into what she wanted on stage. A couple of times she let us into her world with anecdotes of past experiences. There was a hilarious story about a bikini and the bottom half coming away from the wearer during a manic wave-riding bodydoarding trip to the seaside. It was a fascinating side of Hazel that I was itching to learn more of. The music stopped and Hazel was gone. The crowd dispersed and with smug smiles they made their way home. I can't help feeling now that I missed quite a lot in the 80’s although at the time I thought I was immersed in all of it. I certainly missed 'Breaking Glass', but it just goes to show that you're never too old to go hunting for younger things from your life. Now does anyone still have a video player? Set List: Give Me An Inch Runaway Calls the Tune Monsters If Only Do What You Gotta Do Hanging Around/Blackman Big Brother Acoustically Yours Wonder Woman Cover Plus D-Days I Give You My Sunshine Writing on the Wall Will You Eighth Day Encore: Chasing Cars Feeling Good Still Breathing

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