Hazel O'Connor: Breaking Glass Live
Duo Pony and Trap came mob-handed with a busload of ‘poolies bolstering the already healthy sized crowd at the Cluny. The songs were way catchier than the MacBook and guitar setup promised. Sally Rafferty’s (the Hartlepool contingent) vocals filled unexpected niches in the vocal space of songs in that she has a style that adds notes around the central one. Think Delores O’Riordan of the Cranberries and you’re almost there. This makes for interesting listening as did Tom Meyer’s skilful use of the guitar. I liked them enough to visit the merch stall and buy a CD. The band had had Pony and Trap beermats made, a good little marketing idea I thought.
Hazel O’Connor came onto the stage to storm through Give me an Inch and didn’t let up the momentum through several Breaking Glass favourites, and these still have a relevance now. Big Brother, Black Man and Monsters in Disguise were written in the time of Thatcher but the sentiment still holds true now in a time of greater government involvement in our lives. Decisions are being made far away that can make an existence on the edge of society impossible or unbearable.
Hazel has created so much more since Breaking Glass, and although this gig was largely a showcase of that music, the show was not limited to this album. We were to the painful but beautiful I Give You My Sunshine . The song expressed the happiness Hazel tried to give her dying mother in the hospice, all that she could give. Will You became a epic singalong with the Cluny filled with the sound of northeast voices. I’m not sure this was the expected response, looking at keyboardist Sarah Fisher’s face! But it was great fun. Sax was provided by the amazing Clare Hirst who I remember from the Belle Stars, a rare, all girl, instrument-rich band in the 80’s.
Hazel has, of course matured but has lost none of the fire that got her noticed at the start of her career. In her interview with me on NE1fm on the Jowheretogo Show, Hazel described how now she has the blues voice she had always wanted. I recommend everyone reads Breaking Glass Barefoot , Hazel’s autobiography, a great, if sometimes harrowing read. It certainly helps explain where all this creativity and attitude to life comes from. She’s proof that even if We’re All Grown Up, there’s no need to get old.
Listen to the NE1fm interview with Jo Oliver MIXCLOUD
All photos by Jo Oliver for Jowheretogo Photography