Petula Displays Energy, Skill in Coliseum Show
June 11, 1970
by John Wendeborn
Petula Clark, five feet of boundless energy and affection, devoted her show to love, roses and peace Wednesday night in the first of two nights of Rose Festival entertainment at Memorial Coliseum.
Miss Clark sang to and conversed with an audience that almost immediately grasped her to its collective heart as she began with a pair of blockbusters that helped zoom her into the upper strata of pop singers. She opened with "Call Me" and continued with what has no doubt become the theme song of her career, "Downtown."
After "Downtown," the petite Miss Clark embarked on a soft discussion of two Beatles, John Lennon and Paul McCartney ("the straight one," she said), prior to dedicating the concert to "love, roses and peace - do you mind?" This brought applause from much of the crowd on hand and several times during the sixty minutes of solid music she flashed the two-finger peace sign.
Petula, dressed rather elegantly in a powder blue empire floor-length gown covered with a sequined long coat that eventually came off, then sang McCartney's "Yesterday" and put the song, one of Paul's best, in a beautiful setting with a soulful approach seldom heard.
Her program, spiced generously with songs she has recorded, segued next into the haunting "Don't Sleep in the Subway," a lyric she belted and projected to the last seat in the last row of the immense and not too acoustical Coliseum. But the tune ended on a soft note that brought out a sensitivity more correctly called sensuous.
Petula Clark talked about her child prodigy days with Julie Andrews, of My Fair Lady fame, and told how the two singers toured English posts during World War II. With this intro, she launched into a medley of hits from that musical, all on the merry side. She built up a terrific audience rapport with the medley that included "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," "I've Grown Accustomed to His Face," "I'm Getting Married in the Morning" and "I Could Have Danced All Night." She also showed off a talent at the Cockney accent.
On "Color My World" Miss Clark pranced and danced around the circular stage somewhat akin to a Renaissance princess wandering through some sylvan meadow, her head thrust to the sky and singing to whoever would listen.
Between "Color My World" and "You and I" from her film Goodbye Mr. Chips, the English lady discussed the movie, which she said was "revolutionary - it had no sex or violence."
She got in some social comment in the last three songs as she sang "Games People Play" and Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Lennon and McCartney came in for some more adulation when Petula brought forth her wide range and strangely electronic sound on "Fool on the Hill."
Miss Clark concluded with a reprise of "Downtown," but not before introducing one of the best rhythm sections heard in some time. Her rhythm section, punctuated by Kirk Hamilton's frantic bass and Frank Owens' superskill at the piano, travels with her and was integrated with the pit band.
Opening the program, which plays again Thursday night, was a rapid-fire hour of music and dance by the Young Americans and some fine comedy by Don Rice.
Photo courtesy of Gary Schmidt