Briefly, on the food (to maintain a tradition), my choices of Pea-soup, Pollack and Panacotta were (variously) warm, spicy, smoky, rich, subtle, inventive, fruity, cool, smooth and creamy – a neat segue from football to the star of the evening who was all those things, and more!
Jo Harrop really lived up to her billing: “singing sensation from London”, except that, as we all know now, she’s actually from Chester-le-Street and we should claim her as our own! Her voice is amazing – think Islay whisky, dark porter or tannin-rich red wine – deep and subtly modulated on Masquerade, swinging and smoky on My Romance, with lighter, sparkling tones on All of Me and Bye, Bye Blackbird. The lady really can sing the blues as well, with a great version of Georgia on my Mind in this set, and the two exquisite Billie Holliday numbers in the second set already mentioned by Lance. On top of all that, she’s clairvoyant: Jo expressed a willingness to do requests about mid-way through the set and promptly launched into my unfailing choice on these occasions before I could even give utterance to the thought: Julie London’s Cry me a River. Wow!
Paul, Adam and Mick were great with their customary solid support and some good solos. I particularly liked the piano on Georgia and the bass intro to Blackbird as well as the scat / bass combination on one second-half song. And then, alas, it was “strange the change to driver from diner” as we had to leave just as Paul was launching into Every Time we Say Goodbye! Fortunately, by then, Lance had long since come off the bench and warmed up at the bar.
So, thanks to Paul for bringing Jo home and to Vasilis Xenopoulos for getting it all started by introducing them to each other, in London, two exiled Cestrians (who grew up only streets apart). Never mind Homeric warnings about Greeks and gifts: this girl is a real treasure!