Easy informality was the keynote of the concert by Petula Clark at the Royal Festival Hall last Saturday. The former child star and now three times a mum made cracks about her weight, hinted that she didn't always press her stage dresses before putting them on, and chatted up the audience generally between songs. There was no easy informality about her singing however. She brought in a wealth of professional experience to every song and gave her all so intensely during a moving performance of "I Don't Know How to Love Him" that she had to lean against the piano with her back against the auditorium for a few seconds afterwards to recover her composure.
The programme was well chosen and neatly balanced. A trio of Beatle ballads, a trio of songs from Joni Mitchell, Buffy St. Marie and Carole King, current classy pop goodies such as " I Want to Make it With You" "What the World Needs Now," "Without You," and "Wedding Song," a medley of hits from her early career and Jacques Brel's "Un Enfant" specially written for her, were mingled with the familiar and still potent string of Clark hits hatched by Tony, including "Don't Sleep in the Subway," "I Couldn't Live Without Your Love." "I Know a Place" and Downtown.
She finished her encores by kicking off her shoes, sitting at the side of the stage and giving what must have been her first public performance of "Killing Me Softly with His Song," judging by her use of a song copy.
It was a fittingly informal end to a one-woman performance of impressive but unpretentious quality, aided by her excellent M.D. Frank Owens and a first class concert orchestra.