REVIEW: Mari Wilson
She's back – just what we've always wanted.
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There are some performers – naming no names – that you are amazed are still here, still going on. And on. And there are others who are still so fresh that you have a shock when you realize how long ago their one big hit was, for how long their performance has been maturing, how amazing it is that they are still moving forward.
It's thirty years since Mari Wilson recorded Just What I Always Wanted (see below for a nostalgic treat) and we spent the whole set knowing that she would sing it sooner or later – it was her last encore – and that it would be as joyous a song as it was back then. The voice has matured since then – it's strong and sharp and sweet as a good dessert wine – and what sounded callow then is now the effervescence of a grownup who has known heartbreak and come out the other side.
This isn't one of those survivor performances – there is not a shred of self-pity here even when she sings the songs that came out of the collapse of a long relationship, no smugness when she talks or sings about new love. It's significant that one of the best songs from the one-woman musical about losing your lover, the Love Thing, is She's the One, congratulating the ex on his new love with genuine enthusiasm.
The set she sang in cabaret at the London Hippodrome's Matcham Room – all lightly-flocked wallpaper and comfortable chairs, and what is the heterosexual equivalent of camp because the room was weirdly cosy and glitzy at the same time – was a nice mix of her old faves – Cry Me A River, Perhaps (which she sang on Coupling) – and lesser known songs, some hers, one by the BeeGees – along with a charming spiel full of forgotten slang -palaver, scarper – and sweet little stories about childhood and celebrity. She's not the beehive blonde of her early career, but she is nonetheless quietly, charmingly, amazing.
80s treat below...
Check out Mari's YouTube Channel for her newly recorded cover of Gerry and the Pacemakers' Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying.
Words: Roz Kaveney