A couple of months ago I received South Hill Park’s latest guide to what’s on and upon flicking through I noticed that Beverley Craven was playing on Friday 14th September 2012. Straight away I emailed Ross to tell him and suggest we book tickets. There was no hesitation on either side particularly as I knew of his love for her music. Of course, it helped that South Hill Park is in Bracknell, some 15 minutes up the road from us.
I have always been familiar with Beverley Craven’s self-entitled first album because of my sister, Stephanie. She used to play it a lot when we shared a room together. I hadn’t really been fully aware of her music until I started seeing Ross. Beverley seems to be the type of artist who fades in the background and never has as much publicity as she deserves. I was happy to be told today that she was discovered by John Glover, manager of my all-time favourite band Go West. That man has very good taste.
Ross and I had ailse seats in the fifth row – the first that starts to elevate. When we took our seats, all that graced us was a rather technical looking keyboard, a couple of amps and a microphone that looked like it was set up for someone extremely short! Of course the mystery of this was revealed when Beverley stepped out onto the stage with her accompanying saxophonist, Simon Willescroft, whom she informs us had been recording with Paul Weller, Jools Holland and James Morrison that very morning. He is also resident saxophone player for Duran Duran.
A fantastic evening of music and general chat followed with some gentle banter and response from the audience which felt extremely natural. In fact, it felt like we were sitting with an old friend. Beverley opened with Holding On. The rest of her set included Love Scenes, Woman to Woman, Memories, I Miss You and Joey which she explained was about her Staffordshire Bull Terrier which she rescued from Battersea Dogs Home. She went on to tell us about her daughter, Mollie, who had just moved to Paris and then played Mollie’s Song which brought on the tears as I thought about Grace. Other songs included two of my favourites, Everlasting Love and Without Me which was written for her three daughters when she thought she may not recover from her diagnosed breast cancer. It really made me think of my Mum. She played this just before a short interval and, as predicted, left me with very smudged mascara! Thus giving us ladies a chance to fix our make-up. She also risked some audience participation by asking us to join in with ‘Your Girl, My Man’ with the audience singing the second and fourth lines from the chorus. We did pretty well for an audience of around 80 people!
Throughout the evening Beverley made the odd reference to her ex-husband and at one point a female audience member shouted out ‘They’re all tossers!’. I was very pleased that Ross responded straight away with ‘Present company excepted’. She also made a lot of reference to having to struggle with a keyboard as she was trying to find the right backing track. Personally, I can’t even play an instrument let alone work a high-tech keyboard. Simon’s interaction with Beverley was extremely smooth and they seemed to be able to read each other like a book – they’ve obviously been jamming for years!
There was one slip up of the evening which Beverley handled so well and the audience clapped her for. She lost her way during the song Mr Know-It-All. It just shows we are all human, we all make mistakes and unfortunately some of us have to do it in front of a bunch of people!
Her penultimate song was Promise Me which naturally received the biggest applause of the evening with the final song being Lost Without You.
Beverley Craven is an extremely underrated artist who, like many of my other favourite musicians, has faded into the background and become one of the forgotten due to the manufactured music which has infiltrated our radio and tv stations. I have always been a massive lover of lyric writers, proper musicians and people who put songs together with feeling and talent. This lady certainly has all of those qualities in bucket-loads.
Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Ross and I agreed that the only thing that would have made it better would have been if she had played Rainbows – which Grace always remembers is ‘about her’! – and Afraid of Letting Go – which is a song which I completely and utterly relate to. All her albums are now in my car ready to open Grace’s ears to another great singer.
Beverley Craven can be found on Twitter @BeverleyCraven