Sunday, 6 June - 7:30 PM
Bridgewater Hall


Manchester Evening News
7 June, 2002
by Sarah Hughes

Photo by Pat Fox
Petula Clark
Bridgewater Hall

     There is nothing like a diva. And no current diva can come close to touching Petula Clark. Dusty might have been more tragic and Shirley (Bassey) more brash but Petula is one of the great survivors - and like all survivors she still knows how to put on a show.
      A child star since the age of five she has seen her career soar then dip, found time to star alongside Fred Astaire and Peter O'Toole in Hollywood before reinventing herself as an old-fashioned chanteuse and sometime musical star- and last night's show found time to visit all areas of her long, interesting career.
      For those who only know her, if at all, for the big brassy Tony Hatch Number , Downtown, it was a revelation. Looking astonishingly good and nowhere near her 69 years of age,Clark divided the show into parts. The first, a race through old favourites such as I Know a Place, Don't Sleep in The Subway and Sailor, was rapturously received by her fans, but it is arguably the second half of the show, which showcased Sondheim, Edith Piaf and jazz, which was the more interesting.
      Her version of Piaf's La Vie En Rose was moving and beautifully paced while the Sondheim song, I Never Do Anything Twice, had more than one man in the audience believing that 69 is not too old to exude sex appeal.
      For sexy she certainly and, possibly surprisingly, was. While other divas find themselves ravaged after years of singing in

More to
diva than

smoke filled bars and lives lived fast and free, Clark has retained both her cheekbones and that astonishing big band voice.
     She also displays a fine line in dry humour whether talking about Charlie Chaplin playing the piano for her in Geneva or France's chances in the World Cup following their games against Senegal and Uruguay.
     At it was, in the end , her conversation which helped make the concert so special. After all, how many gigs do you go to where the chat in between songs is about getting drunk with O'Toole and dancing with Astaire?
      Like every good diva she milked her audience, teasing them with hints of Downtown before finally performing her most famous song right at the end. It's an old technique but again perfectly timed and she left to a standing ovation and flowers thrown on the stage. After one of the most enjoyable shows by a performer this year, she deserved it.

[Above photos by Roger Evans]

[Photos below by Philip Meehan]