Cleveland Press
July 28, 1971

Petula Clark Wins Over Blossom Crowd of 6,100

by Frank Hruby

One way for a popular singer to put on a show is to let an auxiliary act come on first and use up half the time. That way she can save herself for the coveted finale spot and end up having to sing only 45 minutes or so.

And then there is the way Petula Clark did it at Blossom Center last night. She came on after the briefest of overtures and stayed for the whole evening of entertainment.

Of course if that is all there was to her show, it would be a gimmick and this review would be over. However, by coupling it with her remarkable singing and even more remarkable stage presence, she won over completely her audience of 6,141.

   

The "Downtown" and "Don't Sleep in the Subway" girl never takes a song on its own terms. She sculpts each and every phrase and makes it her own, imbuing it and the song with her own brand of communication.

Though she has a wide variety of styles at her disposal, I personally like those which called for positive, forceful treatment and where great tension was called for. Fortunately, she is able to inject this into the larger proportion of her songs, the most notable example of which last night was the "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar.

This is a song that has already been done at least a half dozen times this year at Blossom, and I can truthfully say that Petula Clark's version came the closest to greatness.

She had kidded briefly about not being the Mary Magdalene type (she's petite and blonde), but her interpretation of the song, the emotional force and drive were exactly right. Here was not just a popular excerpt from a currently popular work but a thing of vast unsentimental power.

Her vocal style is her own and is quite unique. She likes to play with the "upper neighbor" (this is not hanky-panky - it's a melodic device) and not settle for the actual note until the very last moment. She can spin this trick out to almost excruciating lengths which are not troublesome but provide true dramatically intense moments.

Her pianist and bandleader was Frank Owens, who last night had a stage band of some 25 players, many of them Cleveland Orchestra musicians, providing the musical backdrop.