It’s fairly definable. That implicit contract between solo artist and audience. I will give you my best, the best I have to offer of my skill and talent and experience, sitting gently alongside, I will attend to your work and respect your skill, talent and experience. But there are moments when something less definable happens. Times when that compact stretches and extends beyond the singer/ listener experience and the audience shares in a brilliance shaped for memory. It’s a magical, mysterious moment and Erin Cornell’s ALL OF ME is full of them. Simply put, this was a joyous experience, a night for remembering.
ALL OF ME is a well chosen title for Cornell who is an artist who can’t help but share, speaking easily and engagingly to an audience between songs. Slightly self-deprecating in her honesty and often diverging from the topic at hand, pulling herself back to the next on the playlist with an “anyway”, she is delightfully relaxed and it’s infectious.
Note or anecdote though, she never fails to wow. And it starts early with a filibuster rendition of ‘Let It Go’ which rocks the joint and begins a magical transport of an evening. For this is a show with variety a forethought in its flawless design. The songs selected showcase not just the voice but the acting ability that has made Cornell such a respected musical theatre performer. Word pictures painted with the art and the craft of a dreamer.
Seated, still and discretely physicalised ‘I Dreamed a Dream’, arranged with only a piano behind, foregrounds Cornell’s ability to embrace an audience, removing us from noisy Oxford Street to a thoughtful, emotional place where our breath is held as final note is released. Then, with no artifice, she stands with a handheld mic to directly engage the crowd for the more upbeat tempo of ‘Waving Through a Window’.
And it’s not just Cornell’s emotional range that the audience responds to. ‘All of Me ‘ with a smooth jazz feel and modified scat mixes it up with ballads and show tunes. WICKED is there and belters like ‘Another One Bites the Dust‘ … complete with very sexy sashays. Add The Queen of the Night and an a Cappella Goidelic and the mix is quite astonishing.
‘Midnight ‘ from CATS gives her commanding soprano a chance to head towards mezzo in the whisper and in the extended notes of the final phrases as loss pervades the images created by the voice and performance. And the warmth of Cornell’s lower registers is perfect for the wit and inner nerd enjoyment of the 007 song. Which was superbly mixed by the way, unfussy and unshowy, with just enough echo for the space and a reverb to doublecarry those long notes.
For there’s no breathiness in the delivery here. Technical excellence shines through every song and Cornell’s mic technique, her use of proximity and pull are as good as it gets.
Backed by wonderful musicians, directed by the amazing Bev Kennedy with the Mojo sisters so generous and skilled in backup, Andrew Robinson’s arrangements meld performer and voice.
As I chatted to some other women waiting for the loo at interval and as my mates and I debriefed on the pavement, it was obvious that the night had held each of us differently. My extra special moment came towards the end when I had a tear at ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye‘ . I was pretty wrung out by then as the night gave up so many of those lovely moments to laugh and to well up. A night where the star aligned with her audience. A mysterious, magical night of song from a diva of presence and power.