This one-off Claudia fest that took place at the Kings Cross Scala in March 2011 is pretty much everything a CB admirer could wish for - it features the best examples from her career both as a solo artiste and as part of Propaganda, Act, Andrew Poppy duo, Onetwo (collaborator Paul Humphreys was musical director of this concert), played live and immaculately throughout. Solid support from all the musicians in the special band, plus rather striking backing singer/feature dancer Melissa D'Arcy.
Special guests popping up include Susanne Freytag and (a rather unenthusiastic looking) Ralf Dörper from Propaganda, Andy Bell, Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware of Heaven 17, and minimalist composer/pianist Andrew Poppy. CB herself never flags through the performance, although she looks a tad unrelaxed to begin with. The voice is as lyrical, powerful and assured as ever.
One was, however, left wondering how commercially successful a venture the gig turned out to be on the night. The impression is that the attendant audience did not actually fill the Scala to the rafters, and such shots of the audience that are included tend to reveal a highly appreciative crowd of blokes of the more mature variety (such as me), getting with the beat: is such CB's fanbase these days?
CB has been having somewhat of a renaissance over the last two years, but has it come too late to turn on new and more contemporary audience to her iconic status among certain sections of the cognoscenti? The CB cognoscenti, meanwhile, should purchase this release at all costs (well, to the value of ten quid, say) and with all speed. You will not be disappointed.
A tiny quibble is in the picture formatting of the DVD. Although almost certainly originated on video - possibly even HD video - the producers seem to have followed the trend of applying a post-production filter so that the the look has a 'filmic' quality. This for me always dulls the sense of viewing a live event. It also to an extent creates a slight dissonance between the 'as live' soundtrack and 'as recorded' visuals. Yet this is the customary way of presenting concert coverage these days; I'd rather have the raw video experience, to be honest.
This aside, a brilliant record of a charismatic performer who clearly has many more strengths to go to.