Petula Clark's Debut Is Warmly Received
January 22, 1970
Pert and perky Petula Clark made her Houston debut to a large house and warm reception Wednesday night in Jones Hall where she will appear again today for two performances.
"You're wonderfully generous," she said, "but laying on this London weather is too much!" Even the weatherman made her feel at home.
Her accompaniment by the Buddy Rich band was a bit much, too extremely loud and brassy at times, a challenge the petite blonde met with aplomb. Ironically, one of her first numbers was "I know a place where the music is fine."
The dainty English singer is a doll, appearing even smaller than her five-foot-two (yes, with eyes of blue) and much younger than her thirty-plus years.
And she's quite a clown, too. A big production number, "My Name Is Petula," in which she changes her style to fit the German, Italian and French images of herself, is most endearing and comical. A delightful My Fair Lady medley also is performed with gentle humor.
More of her famous numbers were sprinkled throughout the show: "Don't Sleep in the Subway," "This Is My Song," "My Love." And the most famous, "Downtown," her first Grammy award winner, was saved for an encore.
She offered three Lennon-McCartney tunes quite dramatically, perhaps too much so for the tender "Yesterday," but very effectively for "Hey Jude." The other was "Fool on the Hill."
From her films she offered "How Are Things in Glocca Morra (Finian's Rainbow) and "You and I" (Goodbye Mr. Chips).
The Buddy Rich band opened the program with the leader on drums, a chore he relinquished - exhausted - for Miss Clark's performance. It was an earshattering experience. Would you believe a dozen horns? With piano and guitar hardly audible.
Rich's prowess on the tom-toms is remarkable, but long drum solos have a way of seeming much longer than they really are.
January 22, 1970
Warm Petula Satisfied
"First nights are a horrifying thing," Petula Clark observed at her first of two nights in Jones Hall with Buddy Rich and his orchestra.
"I had heard about Texas hospitality, but really, don't you think it's going too far laying on real English weather?" she added.
Such disarming banter plied the near full house Wednesday into a warm, wistful satisfaction. The kind of entertainment Miss Clark gave them, real English music hall showmanship, they don't get often enough.
From an introductory "This Girl's in Love with You" through "I Know a Place" and "Yesterday," she sang with enough conviction to conceal the shaky places in her technique. Her conductor, Frank Owens, served her well.
She treaded lightly. Her opening style softened amazingly in the face of virtually no feedback from the audience. And in dedicating "Yesterday" to the cause of peace, she amended it with "not that it has anything to do with Vietnam, just peace. If that's all right."
She sang a medley of My Fair Lady tunes, "How Are Things in Glocca Morra," her multilingual hit "This Is My Song," "My Love" and "Downtown."
The Clark-Rich concert will be repeated at 8 p.m. on Thursday. For reliable entertainment on a broad level of taste, go.