Claire Martin

DAVID WAKEFIELD Norwich Playhouse


> Norwich Playhouse

Britain, it seems, is awash with wonderfully talented female singers (even without that “honorary Brit” Stacey Kent). Claire Martin is the leader of the pack, and it's not just because she is a fine singer, with a great feel for a lyric and a charming, self-deprecating stage presence.

Her appeal lies in her ability to select, and to interpret, unusual programme content. She is well able to churn out the standards, and does include them; but on Saturday night, she delved into the works of Donnie Hathaway, Chrissie Hynde, Joni Mitchell and Stevie Ray Vaughan; plus a song from the little-known - to me, at any rate - American band Dave's True Story and their 1998 album Sex Without Bodies.

But the Kelly Flint song Nirvana received a tender treatment and hushed attention from a packed house.

Even the standards don't receive the usual treatment; she romped through But Not For Me at breakneck speed and swung the pants off the old Doris Day hit Secret Love.

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The real ear-catcher was a brilliant version of Harold Arlen's Get Happy, arranged by Clark Tracey, her drummer, who, with Gareth Williams (piano and guitar) and Laurence Cottle (bass guitar) provided backing of the highest order.

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