Barbara Dickson with Nick Holland at The New Brighton Floral Pavilion

Posted on 14 September 2015
By Jeanette Smith
  • Share:

Barbara Dickson has come a long way since her theatre debut in Willy Russell’s John, Paul, George, Ringo and Bert at Liverpool’s Playhouse Theatre in 1974. But, of course, she was well known as a folk singer on the circuit well before then, including gigs on Merseyside.

So it was a sort of homecoming for the woman whose mother was a Liverpudlian, married to a Scotsman, ending up in Dunfermline, where Barbara was born. These are the sort of anecdotes that Barbara, 67, gives out between songs, and endears her to her audience.

She was pleased to be back in New Brighton, a place she remembers visiting as a child, coming over on the ferry to play on the sand. “It was a long way from Scotland to sit on the beach and eat ice-cream. It’s changed a lot since then,” she said.

Her current tour with Nick Holland on keyboards, sees her without her usual band, but, she says, this makes it more intimate. However, although this was a pleasing night out, what the band does is give more of a depth of sound.

Having said that, Barbara’s wonderful voice, that never seems to change, is what the fans come for, and she did not disappoint. With just a guitar and keyboard, backed by Nick on keyboards and vocals she ran through a plethora of heart-warming songs.

During an eclectic concert she gave us the hits, Another Suitcase, from Lloyd Webber and Rice’s Evita, Dylan’s Times They are a Changin’, and the evocative Tell me It’s not True, from Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers, which she starred in 1982.

But the bulk of the concert was taken up with songs from her many albums over the years, with many from Gerry Rafferty, a song writer she ardently admires.
Said Barbara: “He didn’t just write Baker Street, which made him famous, he wrote many other beautiful songs.”

She gave us, Winter’s Come, with wonderful tonal shifts that she has put on her latest album, Winter, and the lilting Mary Skeffington, a folksy tune written by Rafferty about his mother. Said Barbara: “We must keep his flame alive. He wrote and sang on the folk scene in Scotland, working right up until his death in 2011.” In 2012 Barbara was asked by Rafferty’s daughter to sing Wise As A Serpent at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections Festival, which she reprised for us.

Among a poignant mix of songs she also gave us In the Bleak Midwinter/Here Comes the Sun from John Paul George etc, as a tribute to George Harrison who wrote the latter, and My Donald, a highland tune which took us back to her folk roots, emphasising her haunting voice.
She ended with her hit Caravans, to wondrous applause. But if you missed her she pledged she would be back in Liverpool in 2017, with her full band.

Barbara Dickson with Nick Holland
Floral Pavilion, New Brighton
September 12, 2015
Purple Revolver rating: ****