Sandra Bernhard clearly loved being at Ronnie Scott’s. Wouldn’t it be fun if she became a regular visitor? Mr S himself would probably have enjoyed her brand of humour:

Who would have thought she would end up here? Sandra Bernhard is a rock chick rather than a standards singer, but this show, full of impromptu asides, hot riffs and, yes, the occasional awkward pause, was as exhilarating as the very best jazz gigs. There’s never been any question about the American entertainer’s all-round talent: remember how she managed to steal scenes from Robert De Niro in that criminally under-rated Scorsese satire The King of Comedy? On stage though, Bernhard can be her own worst enemy: without the right material that caustic outsider wit can sound like the whining of a B-list celebrity who thinks she deserves a stretch limo and a larger swimming pool. A hint of petulance is ever-present, yet this time Bernhard — dressed in a Led Zeppelin T-shirt and figure-hugging skirt — kept it under stricter control. Perhaps because we were in an ultra-intimate setting, we saw the more vulnerable side of her too. 

Meanwhile, Rickie Lee Jones was as mercurial as ever at the Barbican:

It didn’t start well. Fans who had fought their way through wretched weather can’t have been best pleased to hear the announcement, at the moment when the concert was due to begin, that Rickie Lee Jones was going to be 20 minutes late. Nearly half an hour later her two musicians — the multi-instrumentalist Mike Dillon and the guitarist Cliff Hines — finally made an appearance and embarked on an extended bout of jazz-tinged improvisation, Dillon displaying his double-mallet technique on the vibraphone while managing to add splashes of bongos and cymbals. Not everyone was impressed, though. As their first number died away, there came a plaintive American voice from the stalls: “Is Rickie Lee here yet?”

When Jones finally did walk on stage, huddled in a coat, her face shaded by a broad-brimmed hat, we discovered the reason for the delay: she had felt so cold, she explained, that she had decided to have a bath. And since she has long been one of music’s true eccentrics we decided to forgive her. In return she took off her coat and hat and delivered a set that sometimes shimmered, sometimes wobbled, but resolutely avoided following a predictable path.


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