Boisdale at Cabot Square, Canary Wharf, is an interesting venue. Set in the middle of the tech and financial district of London, it’s not the first place you think of for live music. It has however proven a boon for those of us who live in South East London, as well as to those who have a need to entertain international clients, in addition to those who just enjoy good music.
On Tuesday night I made my third visit to Boisdale, who combine an evening of excellent entertainment with stunningly prepared and presented cuisine, mostly from a Scottish menu, but also featuring fine dining classics such as whole lobster, and oysters.
Music for the night was the wonderful Rebecca Ferguson, ably supported by a three piece band who performed a small jazz instrumental set of their own, and the exquisite Wendi Harriott, who, when Rebecca was delayed by an hour due to transport and traffic problems, stepped in and wowed the audience with an nearly hour long set of jazz and soul standards.
Rebecca is brilliant on stage. She has a great patter, telling the audience in her delightful Scouse accent the story of her tumultuous journey to the venue (would you believe the taxi’s wheel just about fell off?), as well as a sumptuous voice, which falls somewhere between Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday, while maintaining an edge of her own. There’s something about her vocal style which surprises the novice listener; it’s a catch, or a rasp, which underlies certain phrasings, and makes her voice quite uniquely suited to sing a range of songs – which she did. Taking her set from her own extensive discography as well as some unusual covers, such as Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’, and Stormzy’s ‘Blinded By Your Grace’, there was also a Motown Medley, an incredible cover of Ike and Tina Turner’s ‘Proud Mary’, and Tracy Chapman’s ‘Revolution’. Additionally, Ferguson held sway with her renditions of the Bob Marley classics, ‘Three Little Birds’, and ‘Could You Be Loved’.
From her own songs came some from her debut album, including ‘Heaven’, ‘Glitter & Gold’, and debut single, ‘Nothing’s Real But Love’. My personal favourite was ‘Superwoman’, from the album of the same name, which she preceded by telling the story of how she came to be there that night – taxi wheel and all.
It’s clear the bond between Rebecca and backing vocalist Wendi Harriott goes further than workmates; it was touching to see them chatting between themselves. Harriott said at the start that she’d been friends with Ferguson for years, and it was absolute testimony to their relationship that she was able to stand up in her place, while she was actually feeling quite unwell on the night.
Rebecca Ferguson will be touring in February. See here for tickets and further information.