Elkie Brooks – Gig Review

Harlow Playhouse – 22 October 2016

Well Elkie is in a good mood and the near sell-out crowd at Harlow is also.  You’d never believe that Elkie is now 71 but boy does she look and sound good.  Thankfully her band don’t have much of a PA stack (given the majority of the audience have free bus passes and go on Saga holidays – tee hee) so sound levels are comfortable and her extraordinary voice soars.

Now I must admit I know very little about Elkie apart from her days with Vinegar Joe, and my wife got the tickets, so I don’t actually know her own material (apart from the hits).  The ‘British Queen of Blues’ had a two-part set – both interspersed with a mix of her songs and excellent covers. The first part was generally more mellow showcasing her voice and the sax, whilst after the interval it was more up tempo RnB and rock based.

Her piercing voice has its own ‘pitch-perfect’ sound (ask the drummer who looks like he should be in Iron Maiden by the way) and is well supported by some good musicians.

Songs I remember from the night (apart from her own material) include:poster-elkie-brooks-22-oct-2016-harlow-playhouse

  • Fool If You Think It’s Over; Sunshine After the Rain; Lilac Wine; Pearl’s A Singer (crowd sing-along favourite); Gasoline Alley; We’ve Got Tonight; Purple Rain; Nights in White Satin and by far away the best bit of the night a cover of The Doors classic Roadhouse Blues.

At one point she held a high note for 20-30 seconds, then fell back into the song without missing a beat.

Elkie has aged like a fine wine (not lilac obviously) – probably down to Nivea cream (she mentioned that she has contemplated plastic surgery and had used all the most expensive creams but all were useless compared to Nivea).  Then added that when you’re in your 70’s you “don’t give a shit anyway!”.

I don’t own any of her songs (apart from Proud to be a Honky Woman with Vinegar Joe) but I would wager she comes into her own live on stage as opposed to vinyl – the power of her voice is a beauty to behold.  At 71 she can still strut her stuff and is ‘fit as a fiddle’ as showcased on Roadhouse Blues.  She looked like she was having a great time.

A simple set, no gimmicks, no flash lighting and typical no messing (telling one lady in the front row to “I’m distracted, stop videoing me please I can’t focus”) from a northern gal.

I went with some friends who were all suitably impressed. So much so that one of them commented on Twitter “Wow. Wonderful evening. Had to put my beer down to applaud”.   Faint praise indeed!

She was in a good mood and by the end so was the whole audience.  Ageing with attitude – come back soon Elkie.

Marko 23 Oct 2016

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