Hazel O'Connor and the Subterraneans
Glastonbury Festival, July 26th

Review by Eric Blair

 

 

Hazel O'Connor's rise to fame on the back of the film Breaking Glass was one of the musical highlights of the early nineteen eighties. Her post -punk style and socially aware songs perfectly summed up the attitudes of the anti-Thatcher subculture that rejected the philofax lifestyle and sought higher things. Now nearly a quarter of a century later and accompanied by the stylish Subterraneans, her superb Coventry-based band, she is playing to a an expectant and packed Avalon Tent crowd. How good it feels to have her back, right here in Glastonbury's green (and currently turning pleasantly browner) land!


After a mad rush from the Jazz and World's eclectic mix of mud and still surreally spotless flags to this forever Arthurian corner of Glastonbury, I manage to squeeze myself though an overspill audience into an already bursting tent that easily equals last night's Lamb turn-out. Dead on-cue and with classic urgency and timing Hazel O'Connor takes to the stage amid rapturous applause and launches her beautifully emotional voice into an hour of what can only be described as pure musical delight. It's all there, and it's all now.. that voice, soaring sax, layered drums and textured guitar riffs.... timeless...

 

All her old classics - such as Eighth Day, Will You, and Calls The Tune - are performed with passion and interspersed with personal faves 'Thinking 'Bout You' and 'Driftwood' . Who would ever have thought though that new wave songs would work so well with a harp (Cormac De Barra ) didg (Phil Jackson) and a full-on band format. plus 'that sax' of course (courtesy of Billy Davidson);

 

But hey; these are still 'decadent days'; and this of course is Glastonbury, where green police and gorillas jostle comfortably with dj weddings in boxing rings, giant wicker couples, opera, and even Sir Paul (bless 'im). Ever the seasoned professional, at one point Miss O'Connor proudly reveals her plastic shopping-bag covered feet (inside her wellies),..an old Glasto remedy for hardened regulars.

 

Looking out over a sea of hands raised and clapping ,the scene quite resembles some glorious Queen video setting, and a totally mixed audience too, where even the usually frenetic stage manager is sitting entranced on a sofa stage right. For one magic moment, it's like having Hazel O Connor (and band and a few thousand mates) singing just for him, me and my new found transient friends. . . now there's a thought! Hazel's set is pacey, rootsy,and measured, with plenty of space to still breathe, as underlined in a great crowd-sing-along rendering of I'm Still Breathing,(I'm Still Alive)..(sorry, no pun intended,) Even The Strangler's get a more than respectful nod with a bursting helping of Hanging Around..

 

A rousing encore and great trad version of Spancil Hill , a lengthy standing ovation later and its time to politely say good night, and what a good night it's been; a great sound, a great band and what a great singer. If only all gigs were as good as this. Stand up and see the writing on the wall Hazel O'Connor certainly calls the tune!

 

 

 

 

 

2004, Daily Mail

- "The Punk Princess grows up"

 

"Playing Out Load"

 

"Fans Roar On Punk Star"