So, on the hottest day of summer, I’d already arranged to go see Girl Talk at the 606 club, with my friend Adrian York playing keyboards at the 606 club. Why did I do it? Well, I’ve been to various Mari Wilson and Girl Talk gigs since Adrian started playing for them – and this was a new set and a new line-up – and, the 606 is almost on my doorstep (although I’d never been there before!). So there was some logic. And of course if I hadn’t booked, it would have rained…
Luckily I arrived at pretty much the same time as another friend, or I am sure I’d never have worked out where the club entrance was. It doesn’t look like the website! You go through an industrial strength door, down some steps and end up in what feels like a really authentic jazz club. The 606 has an auspicious line-up of acts – a bit of a whose who in Jazz today. And it’s a good venue, not so big that it feels impersonal and sufficiently off the beaten track that, at least last night, the audience were there to listen to the music. There’s food and a drinks list. If you are not a member, the licensing means you need to eat if you want to drink…but we were happy enough with that.
The three girls appeared on stage. Glamorous from painted toenail to fluttering eyelashes and beaming happily. Their first number woke us all up – I’d been used to hearing Mari onstage as a solo artist and so part of the ‘shock’ for me was just the amount of NOISE these three ladies can make! Girl Talk – Mari Wilson, Barb Jungr and the newest addition to the group, Gwyneth Herbert, are all excellent Jazz vocalists in their own right. Put them together and you COULD have a recipe for disaster – or, as was evident last night, get a sublime result. I saw the ‘Old’ Girl Talk routine a few years ago, when Claire Martin was the third singer. And all the good things I remember were still there!
The success of Girl Talk is partly due to the sublime singing. Ms Herbert was stepping into some pretty amazing shoes (stillettos of course) and she did so faultlessly. Her voice was flexible and evocative and she managed to dovetail between Mari’s flirty chanteuse and Barb’s gutsy jazz caberet. The vocal strength of the three women was showcased in several flawlessly executed a capella numbers. And, as much as the singing is the backbone of Girl Talk, the chemistry between the singers themselves, the ‘girl talk’ adds a real cachet to the performance. This is intelligent, thought provoking caberet, with bittersweet commentaries on life. I’m sure that I was not alone in feeling a real empathy with the three performers as they delivered number after number with their own incisive twist.
As always Mr York provided an apparently effortless accompaniment on the piano. And, as we all know, effortless is NEVER without effort.
Congratulations to Girl Talk on a great evening of entertainment and music.