Hazel O’Connor at The John Peel Centre

Hazel O’Connor

John Peel Centre

9th October 2015

“Runaway!” cried Hazel O’Connor, opening her much-anticipated, animated and inspirational set.

Immediately explaining that her mother had left her violent father when she was merely eight years old, with herself and her brother following, this candid confession set the tone for such a highly personal evening. It was peppered with intimate details, humour and key events which had influenced her musical offerings.

Opening her heart, she told us of how at 16 years of age she had escaped Coventry and a rape, seeking a wild time in Amsterdam as a dancer and then dodged bombings in Beirut. Returning to England, she found herself forced to sign a record deal which did not favour her own fortunes. This inspired the electronic sound of the anti-establishment song, “Monsters in Disguise.” Sharing with us that she had read a self-help guide before the audition for “Breaking Glass” – giving her the confidence to get the leading role – we were transported back to the days of Margaret Thatcher as the subject of this tour was the film’s incredible 35th anniversary.

O’Connor has lost none of the raw power of her beautiful voice from those days. “If Only” accompanied the closing credits of “Breaking Glass” for which she received a standing ovation. It was one of the most inspiring numbers of the night. “What’s done has been done,” it echoes. How true. Her life has been one of moving on.

The second half saw a bluesy rendition of Billie Holiday’s “Bless The Child and the “wonderful” Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” which led to very audible audience participation, much to our delight.

More gems from “Breaking Glass” included the timeless “Will You” and sleazy sound of “Decadent Days.” The pointed, amusing and anti-patronising “Don’t You Call Me Darling” from 2014 showcased the ladies’ superb vocal harmonies.

All evening Hazel was supported by the experienced, fabulous accompaniment of Sarah Fisher (Eurythmics) on keyboards and her friend from the 80s, Clare Hirst (Belle Stars) on saxophone and clarinet.

Two sad deaths spawned the emotional “I Give You My Sunshine” (mother) and the haunting “Rebecca” (hairdresser to kidney cancer).

A memorable and touching evening was enjoyed by all with us demanding two encores.

Catch her on her tour if you can – you won’t be disappointed.