REVIEW: A musical tonic for the soul, until the next time Gilbert...

Walking into a packed theatre to see someone first heard 50 years ago, but never in person, is quite something – as if time got held in suspension.

By Carol Forster
Thursday, 28th July 2022, 10:51 am

We were frazzled, due to a delayed taxi, and tiptoed to our seats. This stress dissipated as my idol's easy-going aura embraced the hall, and two hours of sublimity followed on.

Gilbert O'Sullivan and Bill Shanley, accompanying guitarist, were fantastic.

Sounding just as good as his album songs, he interweaved old classic hits with newer ones. All tensions evaporated and a feeling of warmth pervaded – of nostalgia, shared experience, memories and inspiration.

Gilbert O'Sullivan

Gilbert delighted by playing some favourites: 'Clair'; 'Nothing Rhymed'; 'No Matter How I Try' to name just a few.

Gilbert had a shy, gentle persona chatting quietly here and there with anecdotes or song-related stuff. His warmth and humour added to the enjoyable ambience of nostalgia and good music that had somehow remained imprinted on our psyches a half-century later.

All the while, I was struck with that sense of lost time: A young girl watching 'Top of The Pops' in 1972 who had loved his songs and image; her mother listening to his hits on the Wogan show.

On the shelf, the old LPs mixed with others to remind of a beautiful period in my life. I saw that amplified around the room. People sat transfixed and fascinated as they saw their childhood revived and gifted 50 years on.

Gilbert's interactive style saw the audience sing along to 'Where Peaceful Waters Flow' and 'Alone Again, Naturally'. These shared moments were precious. No longer singing to early 1970s 'Top of The Pops' now we sang with Gilbert in person – older, perhaps wiser, having whizzed through the excess of the 1980s and era-shifting 1990s into the 21st century. Life is short...

We sang the lyrics but saw them through a different lens of life experience and understanding. And when Gilbert sang a favourite of mine 'Out of The Question', unfallen tears and joy combined.

Bill Shanley, the guitarist, was brilliant too. An accomplished musician, he complemented every song with unrivalled perfection.

An uptempo party atmosphere prevailed towards the end, as fans danced to 'Matrimony'. We had caught up with ourselves and thoroughly enjoyed the great evening.

His fantastic album 'Driven' came out on July 22.