BY her own frank admission, Sarah Jane Morris is menopausal, causing her to break out into hot sweats on stage.
But the flushes and the occasional waving of a cooling red paper fan have done nothing to dampen her mercurial stage presence and her ability to mesmerise an audience.
As evidenced by her recent 102-minute set at Brassiere Zedel, a stone’s throw from London’s Piccadilly Circus, 57 year old Morris is very much in sparkling form. Not one of the 12 songs she performed failed to hit the right note with the evening finishing far too early with a rousing rendition of ‘I Shall be Released’ which had the sell-out crowd screaming for more (she would have obliged if it was not for the fact that the room had to be turned around quickly for La Voix and her pianist).
The ex-lead singer of 1980s band The Republic delivered a performance that displayed the full range of her talent. She was superbly accompanied on stage by guitarists Tony Remy and Tim Cansfield (wonderful on vocals in Morris’s version of ‘Piece of My Heart’ where he adds’ I wish Trump would go away’).
Her love of some of the musical greats was evidenced by nerve tingling versions of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and Billy Paul’s ‘Me and Mrs Jones’ (a track which Morris, with delight, tells the audience she originally cut in 1989 only for it to be banned by the BBC for its lesbian bent).
Her voice reached depths so low on ‘Wild Flowers‘ (a tribute to her mother) it reminded everyone why she was so key to the success of the Communards in the late 1980s as a counterpoint to the falsetto voice of Jimmy Somerville.
And of course, a Sarah Jane Morris concert would not be complete without her vehement support of the dispossessed, the oppressed, refugees and love over war. As she implores at the end of her version of Imagine: ‘peace in my name’, ‘love in my name’, ‘no war in my name’.
Although Morris’s latest album (Compared to What, performed with Antonio Forcione) did not get an airing, tracks on the brilliant Bloody Rain (2014) were played including ‘On my Way to You’ and ‘Deeper Well’ where Remy’s exemplary guitar work comes to the fore.
Morris is an extraordinary singer, as comfortable in the cramped confines of Brassiere Zedel (Crazy Coqs) as she is at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club or the vastness of the Union Chapel in London’s Islington. Her voice is captivating.
She has a canny skill of building a quick rapport with her audience by being slightly self-deprecating and refreshingly honest about her personal life (the love of her late mother, her errant father and husband Mark Pulsford who she married in a humanist wedding at Chelsea’s legendary Jazz club 606). And of course, her menopause. By the way, she also thanked the audience for selling out Crazy Coqs on a Tuesday night (a nice touch).
Her songs are heartfelt and occasionally her voice will hit a nerve ending which will send you into ecstasy. A better experience than any drug or glass of Picpoul will give you.
With a string of concerts scheduled in the coming months (everywhere from Birmingham, Colchester to Royal Tunbridge Wells and London) she is well worth searching out.
Don’t worry about who she will be on stage with (Antonio Forcione or Remy and Cansfield).
Menopause or no menopause, it will be a treat. I promise you. A musician at the top of her profession, impassioned and passionate.