All in the Downs review – a memorable Shirley Collins celebration

Graham Coxon

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Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

An emotional star-studded tribute to a people legend, with a rare look by the singer herself

This emotional concert featured a exceptional array of celebrities and one people legend, who was celebrating her 80th birthday in fashion. Shirley Collins spent a lot of the evening in the audience, and eventually arrived on stage before the encore, to be greeted with a spontaneous Glad Birthday to You. She has suffered from dysphonia, and infrequently sung in public because the early 1980s, however now she joined within the sing-along finale of Hundreds Or More, the cheerful Copper Household music about not needing riches to be pleased.

Shirley Collins has had a unprecedented career, as song-collector, author and a singer who revived long-forgotten songs together with her pure, haunting voice, and who was all the time prepared to experiment. Her best-known recordings have been made within the 60s and 70s, but her persevering with influence was shown by the forged right here. The present opened with eight artists performing songs (principally) from her repertoire, with Blur’s Graham Coxon including spectacular people baroque guitar to his sturdy acoustic remedy of Merciless Mom, Alasdair Roberts providing a strong unaccompanied rendition of Lord Gregory, and Olivia Chaney on the piano for a cool transforming of All Issues Are Fairly Silent.

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