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Sound Reports & Views

Barbara Dickson & Band

London Palladium

BARBARA Dickson first came to public attention as the pianist in the trio playing music for the play John Paul George Ringo and Bert in Liverpool and London. Two solo albums on RSO Records later, she is perhaps best known for the song Answer Me, a minor hit in Britain during the early months of 1975, and for her performance of Another Suitcase In Another Hall on the Evita rock-opera album.

Both these songs formed part of her set at the London Palladium in early April, which was being recorded for broadcast by London's commercial radio station, Capital. Barbara has a strong, expansive and expressive voice, and is also a more than adequate rhythm guitarist and pianist — these abilities she demonstrated amply on an Ovation amplified acoustic, a grand piano and a Dan Armstrong electric six-string.

The band — Martin Jenner, guitar and pedal-steel; Jeff Allen, drums; Pete Zorn, bass, sax and mandolin; Ian Linn, keyboards — were equally eclectic in their styles and abilities, coming more into their own on the funkier material like the version of We Can Work It Out, but maintaining the diversity to shine on slower, quieter songs like Second Sight, too. On this song Martin Jenner played particularly fine guitar, although his work was of a superlative nature throughout the gig. A left-hander, Martin uses an SG from which he manages to draw a sometimes pedal-steel-like sound, combining a dexterity and knowledge of the fretboard with an affection for harmonics and use of the tremelo arm that is a joy to watch and hear.

Generally, the sound improved about halfway through the concert — previously the bass guitar had been a little inaudible at times in the front stalls, and lower frequencies had a tendency to distort. The overall PA mix, however, was admirable, the sound mixer choosing to place Dickson's vocals very 'upfront', placing each instrument and backing vocal behind in a carefully constructed sound picture. The drum sound was particularly good, Jeff Allen's multi tom Pearl kit slicing through the more powerful pieces, floating around on the quieter songs.

It's been about a year now since Barbara's last album, Morning Comes Too Quickly, so there was a fair amount of interesting new material presented. Fallen Angel, for example, allowed Pete Zorn to throw in a couple of tasty bass runs over plenty of string synth, while St Joan was certainly one of the best songs I've heard from Dickson, and provided one of her best performances of the evening. I look forward to the (presumably) new album, and hope that this band get a chance to make it on to vinyl — previous albums of Barbara's have been graced by session players from both sides of the Atlantic.

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Sound International - Jun 1978

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman

Sound Reports & Views

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