The Woman to Woman tour featuring Beverley Craven, Judie Tzuke, Julia Fordham and Rumer was a moment I and many other people had been waiting for for many many years.
Whilst all four women are phenomenal in their own right, it was Beverley Craven that was the biggest pull for me. I am pretty sure her debut album was the first CD I ever owned, so to relive that memory in concert form was a moment I wasn’t ever going to forget.
The Derngate in Northampton is a lovely theatre. Arriving in plenty of time, we had a good look at the people arriving and noticed how the audience were all around 30 and above, a comment Craven herself makes during the show.
With no support, which for once we were grateful for as meant more time with the fab four, Judie, Julia and Beverley took to the stage with their sensational band.
Each artist, took their turn one after the other to sing their songs rather than having a full segment of the show individually.
Judie kicked off the evening with For You and got the crowd warmed up. A respectful crowd, the cheers were kept to a minimum in a good way with each applause rapturous and deservedly so.
Judie is hilarious! Down to earth, fun and engaging, she often spoke of the nerves she has always had on stage so she always has the lyrics of each song in front of her. Judie was the one artist I was actually not that familiar with but is someone I shan’t ever forget. A stunning voice with songs that had deep meaningful lyrics and wonderful melodies, Judie truly shined on stage.
Julia performed Lock and Key first. Her unique vocals even more stunning in a live setting, Julia was met with a huge reaction from the crowd. With a backdrop of her videos behind on a screen, as was the case with all performing, it gave that extra nostalgic moment and we were transported right back to our childhood.
Beverley began with Holding On from her debut album. This was such a special moment. Craven has a wonderful dry sense of humour and said to the audience “sing a long if you know the words, although I’d rather you didn’t”. We didn’t actually sing a long purely as we wanted to hear her sing. We had waited decades for this moment so we weren’t going to ruin that. Holding On was perfection live and even more wonderful with the backing vocals of Judie and Julia. It just made me personally so very happy to be there.
Judie announced she was singing Come Hell or High Waters next and that her husband (Paul Muggerton) wrote this before he met her but that he wrote it with her in mind. Beautifully performed and with help from what were a truly exceptional band. Judie gained a new fan tonight.
Beverley followed with her song Molly’s Song about her first daughter. She joked her other kids are pissed off about this song. An emotional moment, Craven on her piano, sung with such powerful emotion and the backdrop showing photos of her and her children made it even more moving especially now I am a mother myself. I just wanted to hug my boys at this moment. The power of music really does toy with your emotions.
Happily Ever After by Fordham was happily met by her fans. I can’t quite put words to just how special her voice is. She comes across so humble on stage too, in fact all four ladies did which really made the evening that much more perfect as you felt as if you were part of a community, a family in a way. We all definitely felt that everyone in the audience were sharing and feeling the same nostalgic feelings.
The special appearance of Rumer made the night even better. We have covered Rumer before but this was the first time I was seeing her live. Rumer is an unbelievable artist. A flawless voice, Rumer began with Aretha which live, was something else. It became apparent that Rumer’s vocals on her recordings don’t do her enough justice. The authenticity in the emotion behind her vocals was enough to make anyone cry. A bluesy/Jazzy style to her music, I have become obsessed with Rumer since this show and will undoubtedly be making a special effort to see her live again. Rumer stated how she loved Northampton and that it was a hidden gem which the majority of the audience laughed at. Finishing with Blackbird and saying that Beverley insisted she sang two songs, I think it’s safe to say that Rumer gained many new fans that night.
All four women collaborated on the song Juniper Tree. Collectively their vocals were a perfect blend of harmonious heaven. Each vocalist complimented the other beautifully.
A welcome interval was next. Something not often had at a concert, we really liked the fact we had this and were able to refresh for the second half.
Judie kicked off the second half with a very powerful rendition of Welcome to the Cruise. But Craven’s Woman to Woman and of course the name of the tour was just wonderful. I love this song and certainly wasn’t alone in this. She made us laugh again when introducing this by saying it was about a friend who is no longer her friend. A song that so many of us can identify with as we all have had those friends whom have dumped us for a boyfriend. Also before she began the song, Craven informed us how she had recently broken a finger and that this song has some angry chords which her doctor advised against her playing as her finger would completely snap. So playing the song instead was keyboardist Andy Murray (no not that one).
Julia sang Where Does the Time Go next. Telling us how when she was in her early twenties her dad told her if she didn’t get a record deal by the time she was 21 then she would need to find a back up job. She then continues that she wrote this song on her 21st birthday and that it was this song that landed her a record deal. A lovely story to hear.
Judie returned to the stage with her song Ladies Night. This was when she told us the story of having lyrics in front of her all the time and that this song was written after performing in front of a not so nice audience.
One of my favourite ever songs by Beverley Craven is Memories and I was hoping for this song to be on the set list and was so overjoyed when she announced it. Beverley’s little sister, whom the song was about was in the audience for this show as she lives in Northampton. Her sister had also just had a baby and Beverley was very grateful that her sister was able to be there. Memories live was absolutely stunning! A powerfully emotive moment and a sung to absolute perfection, the emotion in Craven’s voice was genuine and strong and I couldn’t help but wonder what her sisters reaction was in this moment.
Rumer retuned to the stage and sang her song Pizza and Pinball followed by the fantastic Slow. Slow is such a great song, a real hit. Live, again, she was out of this world.
Craven, Tzuke and Fordham all joined together to perform their single Humankind. Judie explained how she wrote this a while back to little reaction but the girls loved it so much that they released it together. The proceeds of this song split between charities Greenpeace UK and the Wildlife Aid Foundation. This song pulled at the heartstrings and is incredibly moving.
Love Moves in Mysterious Ways was of course another highlight of the evening. Fordhams most recognised song, this performance was very well received.
“Now to perform my hit” explains Judie as she takes to the stage for the last time alone. Performing Stay With Me Till Dawn, this was a song I didn’t realise I knew and it was divine.
This was a moment that we were equally gutted that we couldn’t hear Beverley perform this song but also happy to be part of a truly emotional and meaningful moment that none of us, Beverley included, will ever forget. The sound of the Derngate audience passionately chanting Promise Me for her was stunning, powerful, touching and uplifting. Everyone single person made this moment unforgettable and historic. It was heart-warming.
Of course it wasn’t a surprise that Beverley was going to perform Promise Me last. Back at the piano, Craven says “and now it’s time for my hit”. The rules of the Derngate theatre are to have no phones filming or taking photos but Beverley states “I know it’s against the rules but please allow my sister to film me performing this song as my mother was supposed to be here tonight too but she is very unwell” Taking a few deep breaths Beverley begins to perform Promise Me. After the first line, she understandably breaks down and says “I’m sorry but I can’t do this” it was then that Judie and Julia attempt to continue for her. Sadly, they weren’t 100 per cent familiar with the words but to the rescue, we the audience powered through the lyrics for her and she continued with playing the piano.
We hope Beverley’s mum makes a speedy recovery.
Halfway through the song, Rumer came back out with a microphone to help and comforted Beverley and you could see how grateful she was.
At the end, after Beverley both apologised and thanked everyone, Rumer stated how she was just getting a bag of crisps from the vending machine when she realised what was happening and knew she had to come out and help.
All four ladies closed the show with Safe. Again, vocally it was sublime.
The Woman to Woman show was like no other experience I have had in a live show. Nostalgic, emotional, captivating and phenomenal, this was one of the best live shows I have ever attended . It meant so much to me to be there and I know the majority of the audience would have felt the same way. What a wonderful and unforgettable evening it was.