Mari Wilson at the Hippodrome
Hailed as the “Soul Queen of Neasden”, Mari Wilson is more famed for her successful stint in the early 80s, where she achieved chart popularity with her song Just What I Always Wanted. Since then, the London-born singer has been performing in musicals (including Dusty, the biographical work on Dusty Springfield, in which Mari had played the leading role).
Her performance at Leicester Square’s Hippodrome was an intimate event, which ultimately made the show much better. The setting had a personal atmosphere, which was best suited to Mari’s on-stage presence as it enabled her to carry off melancholic tunes without the distraction of any extravagances that would otherwise have diminished the power of her songs. Backing the singer was a band that consisted only of three: a pianist, guitarist and bassist, all of whom proved to be exceptional musicians, aiding Mari’s performance brilliantly.
The singer mainly sang covers, from her latest album Cover Stories and opened with an impressive reworking of Space’s Female of the Species, which was then followed by The Pretenders’ Don’t Get Me Wrong. Later on in the set, she was covering recognisable classics including songs from Doris Day, Louis Armstrong and Dusty Springfield. Her rendition of Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying was especially moving.
Aside from her ability to elevate these songs, Mari’s relationship with her audience is quite extraordinary. She is witty (she remarked after one of her songs, “There could have been a pleasant rumba if there was enough space”), graceful, and often humble as she speaks about failed relationships and how certain songs that she had performed enabled her to overcome difficult events in her life.
There is always a danger with shows that consist mostly of covers that the singer will either fail miserably or rehash popular songs unremarkably. Mari Wilson has steered clear of these pitfalls with a voice and persona distinguishable from hundreds of others in the same musical genre. She is capable of captivating the audience with her voice and entertaining them with her charm, making Mari unique and worth watching.
Photos: Bartek Odias
Mari Wilson is at The Hippodrome until 19th January 2013. For further information and future events visit Wilson’s website here.