Janis Ian, Queens Hall
IT was the hottest ticket in town last night - bar none.
The artist Ella Fitzgerald once called "the best young singer in America", Janis Ian is a performer who fully deserves her heroine status - and her first Capital concert for nearly a decade was a real event.
Dressed all in black, the ageing icon wandered on to the stage as if in a trance, bowing politely, before launching into song. After soaking up the loud applause, Ian addressed her fans for the first time: "I was worried starting with something so lighthearted, I might not live up to my reputation for depression."
Old favourite, Dead Men Walking, followed by Watercolours, set the bar high, but what followed certainly didn’t disappoint. It was a set packed with highlights. However, some of the most awe-inspiring moments were From Me To You and the beautiful My Tennessee Hills, recorded as a duet with Dolly Parton for Ian’s 18th studio album, Billie’s Bones.
In between songs, Ian went off on rants about Iraq, Starbucks, religion . . . oh, and Britney Spears: "Britney . . . I mean, what’s there not to like?" said Ian. "She’s tall. She’s blonde. She’s rich. She’s young - Slut!"
Gliding into Between The Lines, Ian reiterated her ability to write and sing a simple but effective love song. As effortlessly gorgeous as ever, the music lost none of its seductive charm and sensuality played live. An old classic like Watercolours remained raw and emotive, while newer number I Hear You Sing Again was haunting and atmospheric, showing just how effortless a vocalist Ian can be.
In today’s over-manufactured, Pop Idol-crazed music world, it’s reassuring to know there are still those around with true talent and originality. Janis Ian ranks among them.