Friday 30th March, fearing I would be stuck in rush hour traffic, I thought I would leave early for the short trip up the motorway aiming for The Stables in Wavendon. Plain sailing all the way and the only queues I saw were those people still convinced there would be a fuel crisis, clearly they hadn’t heard the news to stop panicking.
Tonight is one of my highlights of the year with a Sold Out visit from Judie Tzuke, someone I had followed since day one and have seen on many occasions and always love seeing at this special venue. In fact I first discovered The Stables due to Judie playing there, in those days it was a much the small venue, where if you were in the front row you could put your feet up on the stage (actually if you were tall enough and in the back row you could put your feet on the stage, it was that small.)
So arriving early and getting the usual warm welcome, reserved for everybody not just regulars like me, gave me the time for a chat with some old friends before the 8pm start and the support of the evening from Bailey Tzuke. Bailey’s singing and her own compositions have matured over the years from when she first appeared with her Mum and ironically the first time I saw them together was here at The Stables on the first ever Bob Harris Introduces shows, Tonight she was joined by Judie’s backing band and she sang and swayed her way through her 30 minute set with ease.
After the break, Judie came on stage to the understandably rapturous applause and straight into Enjoy the Ride a song originally recorded with Morcheeba and very fitting start as you could sense we were going to enjoy this. With a brief hello she continued with tracks from her latest CD One Tree Less and she settled in to the evening by explaining she would love to play all the songs her friends on Facebook had requested, but she’s be there for the rest of the week, which frankly we wouldn’t have minded. By her own admission Judie doesn’t converse too much on stage, though it did seem that with the addition of the “naughty water” as she calls it, help to change this and it’s great to see her so relaxed playing live again. With such a body of work to choose from, spanning back to 1979, it’s always a surprise as to what we will get, so it’s great to hear How Sweet it is and means I will be digging out the Cat is Out CD again. Judie takes us on a rollercoaster ride of emotions with songs like Joy and If then the wonderfully haunting Till it’s over with just piano accompaniment and her daughter by her side. Up the tempo a bit with Living on the Coast and Human Kind which is getting a lot of radio play, before showing us she still knows how to rock out with the best of them and Sukarita and Sportscar and we all mouthed – I don’t care who you are you’re not putting your car in my garage.
It was clearly warming up on stage and Judie even decided to fold up the set list to use as a fan, before popping back stage during an instrumental break, this lead to a few smiles and laughs between her and Bailey on her return as after trying to cool herself down there were still residues of tissue paper on her face, honest we didn’t see anything. The set soon came to an end to the groans from the audience, though as was explained, “it’s the end of the set and you know the score”. The applause kept going until the bands return for a few more numbers and of course ending with Stay with me till dawn, the standing ovation was only to be expected after such a wonderful night and this was not just an appreciative audience, you feel these were also her friends. There was the hope and anticipation that we might be treated to maybe one more song, until the house light came up, though it did give people more chance to chat to Judie in the foyer, where the merchandise sales were going well.
So a sign of a really good concert for me is, I want to see it all again, but with two more gigs until the end of the tour this won’t be possible, though I can understand why people are happy to travel far to follow her around. This is an artist that all female vocalist / musicians should check out at the earliest opportunity and one to aspire to, still at the top of her game and loads more to offer. And with the talk of a possible acoustic tour on the cards it may not be too long before we see her live again and lets hope they continue to use the small to medium size theatres, like The Stables, this is where Judie can really shine through, an excellent night and if I did marks gigs out of 10, then I’d turn this one up to eleven.