Petula Clark, in a glorious burst of talent and showmanship, is making wide-eyed schoolboys out of all of us in a smashingly superb Diplomat engagement this week. She is beautiful, captivating, charming and mainly is singing the daylights out of one of the finest nightclub shows I've ever seen.
From the moment Pet appears on stage holding a yellow flower and wearing an interesting see-through black blouse, she has our attention. Her first number is great. Her second number is better. Her third number is better. On and on and on she goes through the most arresting and eloquent female performance I've seen in many, many years.
Miss Clark cannot be categorized and there are four or five crumpled pieces of copypaper next to my typewriter at this moment, attesting not only to my own personal awe in the face of such a skill and presence, but also to the complexity of the onetime rock and roll star. Petula is one moment a child, another moment a woman, one moment very young another moment quite mature, and another moment into rhythm and blues, another moment into something quite sophisticated and theatrical.
She talks about the Beatles' famous Fool on the Hill composition, and describes its mystery. Then she sings the song, and for the first time--after hearing the song countless times by numerous accomplished artists--one appreciates the full depth and wisdom of the Lennon-McCartney songwriting team.
But the goose bumps really appear a few minutes later when the Van Smith orchestra roars the theme from Jesus Christ Superstar, seguing quickly into the Mary Magdalene ballad I Don't Know How to Love Him.
It's a rare and sensational moment. One suspects that every breath in the audience is held tightly as the little English lady climbs step by step through the power and agony of the famous Superstar number.
The ending is explosive.
Exhausted, Miss Clark whirls away from the microphone. Equally exhausted the audience explodes in turns with cheers, bravos, shouts of "Great!" "Fantastic!" and "More!"
Miss Clark is actually staggering and there are those among us near the stage who start to move in our chairs, half expecting the diminutive singer to collapse. She looks weary. Spent. Worn.
After she slowly and haltingly moves into a medley of her great hits, a crippled child is lifted to the corner of the stage. The little boy holds out a bright red rose and hands it to the singer, who comes over at once, holds back the tears, and sings My Love, the opening song of her medley. The number rips her, and us, apart.
But the rose speaks for us all.
The Miami Herald
Petula Clark Fabulous at Cafe Cristal
Any composer fortunate enough to have his song sung by Petula Clark should thank his lucky stars.
I don't think there's a contemporary singer around today who can make a song come alive like the diminuitive blonde British lovely.
A good example is "Penny Lane," one of the Beatle numbers in ther repertoire in her latest appearance at the Diplomat Cafe Cristal.
I've heard it sung by numerous personalities of note, but the number, though always pleasant to hear, was just another contemporary good tune to my ears.
However, when dynamic Petula delivers it, it's a delightful melodic study of typical British folk. The words have meaning, and the colorful street suddenly comes alive via Miss Clark's demonstative performance.
She imparts a distinctive character to every song, and as a result makes each of nine songs an entirely different vocal experience to thrill the audience.
Her musical arrangements are in a class by themselves. Her group of four musicians create a striking musical pattern for Van Smith's fine orchestra to embellish.
Never is an instrument distracting. The brasses are mellow. It's perfect blending and background for the fantastic voice of marvelous Petula Clark.
High point of her performance is the thrilling version of "I Don't Know How to Love Him," from "Jesus Christ Superstar." An intense projection it takes the vibrant singer at least a minute to regain control of her emotions after she sings it.
Her phrasings throughout are superlative. Outstanding dramatic and dynamic demonstrations of this occur in "Fool on the Hill."
She usurps the piano from her magnificent conductor-arranger Frank Owens. And seated at the baby grand she makes a very familiar tune, "Going Out of My Head," sound vitally fresh with her vivid rendition.
She sings her big recording hits, among them "My Love" and, of course, "Downtown."
As she sang the latter, you realize what a plateau Petula Clark has attained in the world of entertainment since that song was first recorded.
She rightfully has gained an undisputed position on top of that world.
January 24, 1972