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Sunday, 3 July 2011

Girl Talk: I am Woman at The Lowry, Salford

Life can really be most humbling.

Take cooking, for example. I like to cook (and eat, but I feel most readers will already know that); indeed, I am really quite good at it. A few years ago, I even toyed casually with the idea of applying to go on Masterchef, where I would rustle up a few of my crowd-pleasing dinner party favourites, get approval from Greg although some sneery comments from John about the rustic appearance of my food, and perhaps get an honourable quarter-final place before being sent packing, holding my head high.

That was, of course, before Masterchef got slick, professional, uber-competitive and - frankly - terrifying. Now, I would be as likely to enter Masterchef as I would be to abseil naked from the top of the Eiffel Tower, so certain a humiliation would I face for my incomprehensible inability to whip up a brandy basket in thirty seconds flat.

Singing is a similar minefield. The proliferation of reality TV shows - which are inevitably starting to discover that Britain is apparently not a bottomless pit of talent - can easily encourage one to believe that a half-decent singing voice is theirs. As someone who has received many standing ovations for her heartfelt performance of Hey Big Spender aloft a table in Crazy Wendy's Thai Karaoke Restaurant, AND who holds a record SingStar score of 9990 for Papa Don't Preach (although those missing ten marks are starting to rankle now - where ARE they?), I had begun to form a favourable opinion of my talents that allowed me to sneer with impunity at those hopeless wannabes prostrating themselves at La Cowell's immaculate feet.

That's why last night was so humbling. I wrote about Girl Talk a couple of weeks ago, a three-woman-show at The Lowry in Salford, exploring through song various aspects of being female (I didn't tell Mr Liz this or he'd never have gone - I just told him it was nice ladies singing, and that he'd get dinner and beer at Lime first.) And very nice ladies they were too, with quite ridiculously, ludicrously, horrifically good voices. Suddenly, the oh-so-clever-and-lovely drunken harmonies performed by myself and my similarly-voiced best friend at Christmas parties looked - sadly - like the efforts of out-and-out amateurs; these were three voices that complimented each other to perfection.

The first voice belonged to Mari Wilson, upon whom I now have a slight girl crush - I definitely want to be her when I grow up. The second belonged to Gwyneth Herbert, the youngest of the three, who has the kind of smoky, deep, cocktail-bar voice that makes you fall a tiny bit in love with her as well. The third, Barb Jungr, got the loudest applause of the night for her solo version of Babs' Woman In Love, but should probably know that the length of her dress was prompting considerable discussion in the ladies' toilet during the interval (something that struck me a little out of keeping with the pro-woman spirit of the event, but that's women for you.)

There is banter between the songs, and excellent accompaniment on the piano (and tambourine - let us not overlook his versatility) from Adrian York, but this was all about the singing. Oh, and some extremely impressive balance in the face of some very high heels. The show (and its shoes) is still touring - do go along if you get the chance - full details are on the Girl Talk website. Me, I'm off to practise some more, lest my hopes are fulfilled and the art of perching on a bar stool, singing songs about men and having lovely bouffy hair, becomes the Olympic sport it so richly deserves to be.

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