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Alison Moyet - Cliffs Pavilion, Southend, 11/11/2017

  by Adrian Janes

published: 9 / 2 / 2018

Alison Moyet - Cliffs Pavilion, Southend, 11/11/2017


Adrian Janes watches Alison Moyet play a down-to-earth but gripping gig at Cliffs Pavilion in Southend

Enjoying (in every sense of the word) the present revival in her career, Alison Moyet responded to the enthusiastic reception of opener ‘I Germinate’, a song in which she sees herself as still at an early stage of development, with a cry of “It’s brilliant to be back!” Part of the world tour to promote her latest album ‘Other’, Moyet’s down-to-earth talk in-between songs showed that she has lost none of the character that originally saw her play the pubs and clubs of Essex in the late 1970s and early 1980s. While by no means a nostalgia act, her set included many of the staging-posts of her past, from ‘Nobody’s Diary’, a song she specifically recalled writing as a 16 year-old in her bedroom in Laindon (part of the wider Basildon area from which Depeche Mode also came), to the poignant ‘Whispering Your Name’ and ‘When I Was Your Girl’. The fact that these older numbers sat so well with those from ‘Other’ (such as the dynamic, guitar-driven sass of ‘Beautiful Gun’ and the yearning of ‘Alive’) testified to both the quality of the songs and a consistently strong performance, Moyet being unobtrusively but effectively backed on keyboards and guitar by John Garden and Sean McGhee. The powerful range of her voice has often been used to expose a great vulnerability, an emotional honesty that many would see as in itself her strength and her attraction. This night it was perhaps best revealed in new song ‘The English U’. Her introduction explained that it was born from her teacher mother’s gradual succumbing to dementia, who nonetheless continued to retain a sharp awareness of correct English. Her daughter wryly sang of herself as “A criminal to grammar” in comparison, but movingly eager to learn: “Read to me/I’m still listening”. Though nothing was poorly received, even with half of a new and less familiar album being included (the general age of the audience testament to their decades-long loyalty), it was clear from the spontaneous reaction that the Yazoo hits like ‘Only You’ and ‘Situation’, as well as the earliest solo successes from the days of solo debut ‘Alf’ (‘All Cried Out’, ‘Love Resurrection’), remain especially loved. The juxtaposition of old and new that typified the set was epitomised by the two encores. ‘The Rarest Birds’ is an emotive ballad from ‘Other’, and just as Moyet’s song selection acknowledged her age but also her youthful years, so here she empathised with others in words to which her fans could well relate: “Fixing your hair for grey/Pulling at your face/Trying not to frown/Like this/ And you hold up your party dress.” Yazoo’s ‘Don’t Go’ then capped things off, an exultant house dancing out of their seats and in the aisles, the ushers now abandoning any effort to make people sit down. From the audience’s point of view the song could also have been a plea to Moyet, but judging from their warmth tonight, for them she’s never really been away.

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Alison Moyet - Cliffs Pavilion, Southend, 11/11/2017

Alison Moyet - Cliffs Pavilion, Southend, 11/11/2017

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