Review: Camille O’Sullivan: Feel, The Queen’s Hall

Camille O'Sullivan gave an outstanding performance at The Queen's Hall, to the delight of her many old and new fans
Camille O'Sullivan gave an outstanding performance at The Queen's Hall, to the delight of her many old and new fans
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CHANCES are you would have to trawl through hundreds of press cuttings to discover when – if – Camille O’Sullivan has ever had a bad review. This isn’t it.

*****

On the contrary. The raven-haired half-French, half-Irish chanteuse was at her sensational best last night, wowing The Queen’s Hall with her vaudevillian singing style and dramatic interpretations of the songs of Brel, Waits, Cave and more besides.

Given that she’s been a Fringe institution since 2004, it was no surprise that many of those in attendance were already familiar with O’Sullivan. But you also got the impression that those who weren’t all left as fans.

Her last visit here was titled Chameleon and, really, that’s still the best word to describe the girl.

The singer’s latest show, Feel, finds her doing what she does best – delivering heartrending, spine-tingling, rocked-out renditions of narrative songs by her favourite composers. Songs that are evocative of the magical stories you heard in childhood – and not just the happy endings either, but the older, darker tales full of mischief and mystery.

O’Sullivan took to the stage sporting a glittering red cloak, kicking off with a disconcerting lullaby before launching into a rabble-rousing rendition of Arcade Fire’s Wake Up – a song the Canadian collective themselves dubbed as their “Scottish war song”.

Elsewhere, the singer’s sense of playfulness was prevalent during her take on Kirsty MacColl’s In These Shoes, but she was just as captivating on Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt – a song covered by Johnny Cash to critical acclaim.

O’Sullivan made her name doing interpretations of the weird and wonderful songs of Brel and her version of Amsterdam was a highlight.

But perhaps the stand-alone moment – and there were many to choose from – was her reworking of Radiohead’s True Love Waits, a stunning you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop moment.

As sure as the rain, O’Sullivan will be back here in August for four nights at the Assembly Rooms – although her popularity in these parts is such that fans might want to book now.