Hazel O’Connor

The sold out “Evening With Hazel O’Connor” at Carnglaze Caverns, Liskeard was truly inspirational! It’s always a worry when you go to see an icon from your youth, in case those glorious memories are spoiled for ever. Hazel and her friends Clare Hirst (also a heroine from my Bowie crush) and Sarah Fisher (Eurythmics) completely exceeded expectations however – even though the gig was very different than anything I had anticipated.

Broken Glass was THE film of my teenage years and probably helped to shape me more than any other cultural influence at the time. I was already in love with Phil Daniels from Quadrophenia and once I’d seen Hazel play Kate I was in thrall. I saw it over and over again whilst memorising every line of the LP late at night up in my bedroom. It spoke to me, made me determined to leave the humdrum existence of life in a small Yorkshire mining town and introduced me to glorious soaring music and lyrics hitherto not dreamed of.

So yes, quite a tall order to follow but almost from the first song Hazel wove her magic again! The two set show was a (mostly) chronological musical journey through Hazel’s life: from being raped at 16 to running away from home and working her way around the world as a cabaret dancer, from being almost bombed in Beirut to landing the part in Breaking Glass, and her later life in America, France and Ireland. At times heartbreaking, at other times hilariously funny she sang the songs we all wanted to hear but interwove them with fascinating stories about the events behind them, the artists who influenced her and friends met (and lost) along the way. In the process she created something bigger and better than the film Breaking Glass – the musical of her occasionally tragic, but always extraordinarily colourful, life!

This highly entertaining show was a musical journey in other ways too starting with smokey blues and her Nina Simone influences, through the punk years of the 80s, to  some stripped back acoustic folk (just harmonies and 3 bodhrans). There was also a gospel-esque singalong (hundreds of people singing their hearts out in a cavern with the sound echoing back off the walls is just glorious) and some spine tingling jazz sax and keyboard solos from Clare and Sarah. It was a seated event but the audience were so charged with emotion that they leapt to their feet several times to applaud and give standing ovations.

A truly brilliant night!

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