The cosy Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough last night played host to arguably one of the UK's most prolific singer songwriters, the incomparable Judie Tzuke. The gig, the latest on her "Songs and Stories" tour was ideally suited to the intimate surroundings and was quite possibly the most honest show I have ever seen.
The idea of the tour is an acoustic songbook with just Judie, her daughter Tallulah, a talent on her own too, and her songwriting partner Graham Kearns on stage. Graham plays three different types of acoustic guitar, including a twelve string, but that is all the instrumentation that is used all night. The show is also a Q&A, get to know Judie evening, and I have to say that it worked beautifully.
I first saw Judie in Bradford in the late 70's when she supported Gallagher & Lyle. I was stunned by her vocal qualities then and remain to be equally stunned to this day. She is just simply sublime. I did not realise until last night how terrified Judie always is prior to going on stage for a performance. In fact she admitted last night, in answer to a question, that if she had known how hard it would be she may not have entered the music industry at all. What a loss that would have been! However, as her Father was a major influence on her life and a music promoter, it was always likely that she would follow the path of a performer. Take a few minutes to read her story, it is totally absorbing.
The concert opened with "All at sea" co-written with David Saw with whom she has written a number of songs. In fact much of her work is co-written with various artists, too much collaboration to mention here, as she quite readily admits in a very honest and self-deprecatory fashion, she is not very good on either the guitar or the piano so needs help. She has now been working with Graham Kearns for over fifteen years and their professional and personal relationship shines out throughout the concert.
The music of the evening is a mix of self-penned songs, some she has collaborated on and others that she simply likes. For example, she sang Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" for a talent completion at the age of 14 and repeated her fabulous version last night. She also sang John Martyn's ""May you never" which she had sung to her children for many years. Judie also told the story of her aborted attempts to sing with the wild but immensely talented Martyn but never made it. I did wonder at this point if she had a fixation on the initials JM.
The music flowed, the stories did likewise and it all made for a truly wonderful and intimate evening with a self-confessed worried and at times troubled lady whose voice will simply knock your socks off.
Her most famous song and the one that she admits has been good to her, is the superb "Stay with me till dawn." Judie used this, quite righty, to round off her concert although she did come back for an encore to rapturous applause and sang "For you." The perfect way to round off an evening of music, emotion and passion.
Promoter Mike Addison should be congratulated for persuading an artist such as Judie to visit our beautiful little theatre and town. He did likewise with Kiki Dee and Beverley Craven too. They must know that they will receive a very warm and friendly Yorkshire greeting.
I believe it takes someone very special to perform on any stage in front of an audience when you are terrified of the prospect. Judie Tzuke is just such a person, a very SPECIAL lady!
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