These days, when you attend a Marc Almond concert you never know what you’re going to get. Will it be a mixture of new tracks, heavy on the back catalogue, or will it be vice versa? Will it be a surprise rendition of one of his treasured albums, played in full? The joy is in attending the gig and finding out.
However last night, on the first night of his Shadows and Reflections tour, the audience were pretty certain they knew everything about what to expect.
The Shadows and Reflections album came out on 22 September and is an exercise in Sixties cinematic theme tunes; covers of songs by Bacharach, The Yardbirds and Billy Fury. And for the first half of the show that’s just what we got; easy listening tunes mostly from the new album or as Marc described them “depressing songs full of melancholy”. He was backed by an orchestra which was completely appropriate for the mood of the evening. “Keeping it classy” as Marc joked.
The repertoire mostly consisted of songs from the album and opened with the title song Shadows and Reflections. I was delighted to hear album song interspersed with other gems, including Marc’s rendition of Interlude, a gorgeous song recorded by Morrissey and Siouxsie Sioux much to Marc’s disgruntlement at the time. He had designs on releasing the song himself and was unfortunately pipped to the post by his peers. The song was originally recorded in the sixties by Timi Yuro and Marc’s version was worth attending last night for, alone.
Soon we were at the halfway stage of the evening, but after the brief interval the mood was about to change. We were presented with some very interesting and unexpected choices of back catalogue including Just Good Friends from A Virgin’s Tale and a brilliant a capella version of Scar from The Velvet Trail with his superb backing singers.
Old favourites like Jacky, Hand Over my Heart and The Days of Pearly Spencer equally received an enthusiastic response.
Marc was joined on stage by his regular pianist Martin Watkins for Brel’s If You Go Away and Aznavour’s What Makes a Man a Man. He was also joined on stage by co-collaborator John Harle who conducted the beautiful song Embers which was co-written by Marc and Chris Braide, who also co-wrote many of the songs on The Velvet Trail.
We were further treated to Sandy Denny’s Milk and Honey which seemed to match the overall mood of the set.
The evening ended on an unexpected note too. The final songs were Torch, a mashup of a funky number I Got to Find Me Somebody with a couple of verses of Tainted Love with Marc’s five backing singers but most surprising of all there was no Say Hello Wave Goodbye to end the show. In living memory, I can’t remember a time when this has happened!
Within moments the auditorium had emptied and after saying goodbye to friends (and singing our own version of SHWG) we made our respective ways home.
The extensive tour continues apace throughout the UK over the next few weeks. Catch a show if you can. Your soul will thank you for it.
Ange Chan is a poet and novelist. Her fourth poetry collection “Fame; What’s Your Name?” and her second novel “Baby, Can You Hear Me?” were both published in paperback and Kindle in 2016.
Her latest poetry collection “Songs of Sorrow and Heartbreak” was published in October 2017 and her third novel “Champagne Flutes and Pixie Boots” will be published in 2018.