(Pheasantry, Kings Road, Chelsea. 26th February 2014. Review by Sarah Chaplin)
Beverley Beirne has been an active jazz vocalist on the Yorkshire scene for a few years but she recently graced us with her London début at the Pheasantry, enlisting the help of a dynamic young trio she’d assembled for the occasion – Sam Watts on piano, Flo Moore on bass, and Ben Brown on drums – to which she added the exemplary session musician Rob Hughes on saxes and flute.
Opening with Beautiful Love, Beirne fired up her sultry, dark contralto and connected emotionally with her audience right from the start. There is a warm, sensual vulnerability to the way Beirne delivers a song, and many of the fresh takes of familiar tunes were her own arrangements. Blue Skies was dark, spare and slow with Hughes weaving through the lines on flute. You and the Night and the Music was done most effectively as a tango. Nature Boy was presented in 6/8 time instead of the usual 4/4, giving it a pleasing languid quality. Perhaps the most engaging song in the first set was Temptation, drawing on her lovely lower register against which the flute was a light textural foil. It began with a rumbling drum intro, and developed into something very moody, sexy and laid back.
By the second set, the audience was pretty rapt, drawn in by her confident delivery, offset by her self-deprecating northern remarks. She performed a stripped back version of the wonderful Trouble is a Man, and then, much to the delight of the composer and saxophonist Duncan Lamont, who was in the audience, Beverley sang his piece Dark Side of the Rainbow, with heart-stopping lyrics and phrasing. The soloing was excellent from all parties, and there was an evident sense that they were enjoying working through Beirne’s carefully considered repertoire. I hope to see her back in London soon!