March 7, 2019
The 2019 International Woman’s Day event was built upon the success of the IWD concert at the same venue the year before. Immy, co-owner of the Green Note, promoted the event which was held at JW3 because it was simply too large scale to put on at her intimate Camden institution.
Immy praised Michele Stodart of The Magic Numbers who once again returned as musical director: “She is truly the backbone of this project.” The premise was the ages and stages of womanhood.
The youngest performers, Megan, Mabel and Sarah, made up the a capella trio, The Rosellas. They harmonised on Que Sera Sera.
Margo Buchanan raised a huge cheer. She’s worked as a session singer for Shirley Bassey, Bonnie Tyler, Billy Idol and many more. She took us into late adolescent with At Seventeen, joking that raising teenagers gives a new perspective on the impact of coming of age: ” “I used to think that teenage angst was only suffered by the teenager.”
Stodart performed Brandi Carlile’s song The Mother, about the realities of motherhood: “Welcome to the end of being alone inside your mind/you’re tethered to another and you’re worried all the time.”
Charlie Dore, who found fame with Pilot of the Airwaves in 1979 and has worked with Celine Dion, Tina Turner and Jimmy Nail, stepped up next. There was a murmur of recognition and approval as her famous song was mentioned. Whereas The Mother was about being a mother without having given birth to the child, All These Things was a deeply personal song about desperately wanting to be a mother but being unable to, for those that “haven’t enjoyed the fairground of IVF, hoping against all odds.”
Push & Pull was from Stodart’s perspective and from her daughter’s. It explores coming to term with not feeling guilty about going on tour and experiencing a sense of escape. Stodart’s sweet vocal was backed by plaintive violin.
Angela Gannon, keyboard player and vocalist for The Magic Numbers, received the highest praise: “Angela’s voice is truly something special.” She gave a gorgeous rendition of Prosperina. Here, Connie Chatwin’s violin was otherworldly.
Celestine, lead singer of Black Box and also a solo artist, introduced us to Nina Simone’s Four Women about the harsh realities and consequences of slavery and assault.
Next, the performers started teaming up in earnest. Stodart, Gannon, Buchanan and Dore covered Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide.
Then, Buchanan and Dore gave a showstopping version of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now, conveying the weariness and pathos. Buchanan explained that she’d once spent two weeks with Mitchell in Japan: “I bet I remember it more than she did.”
Stodart stepped up next, shaking her head: “How do you follow that? Sadly I am to follow that! I’m shaking because it’s just so emotional and intense! Of course, she was up to the challenge with Dar William’s thought provoking challenge of socially constructed gender roles, When I Was A Boy.
Kate St. John who was in the house band the previous year, took centre stage next to play Watch You Slip Away. “I don’t often come out from behind my instrument,” she admitted, but this was the right event to share her poignant tune about caring for her mother who had dementia, in a house just a few streets away from the current venue. She wrote it with her mother-in-law, Peggy Seeger.
The Rosellas returned to cover Bill Withers’ Grandma’s Hands, backed by slinky bass and drums from The Magic Numbers cohort.
Gannon channelled Dusty Springfield for Quiet Please, a plea on behalf of female performers everywhere.
Then Celestine stepped forward to give us the highlight of a night of highlights. We should have known; she gave fair warning: “Any words anybody want to say before my shoes come off?” She launched herself across the stage and around the auditorium with a captivating performance of I’m Every Woman.
The performers returned one last time for a group performance of Turn! Turn! Turn! and left to a standing ovation and rapturous applause.
“I don’t know about everyone else but I had to come back because I left my shoes here.”Celestine