Regional Reviews: San Francisco
Jane Olivor's Triumphal Return to the Empire Plush Room
Legendary singer Jane Olivor returned to the Empire Plush room recently in a special Christmas show to delight her many fans. Earlier this season the celebrated singer had a sold out run, so special arrangements were made by the management for a return engagement.
Jane Olivor was very popular in the 1970s. She put out a series of excellent albums on the Columbia label, including her dazzling 1976 debut, First Night. She left the business in the early '80s and is ready again to enchant audiences everywhere. Ms. Olivor has a beautifully controlled voice that distinguishes her from other cabaret artists. She has wonderful resonance when singing in a middle ground that allows her to move with a cool voice. She reminds me of many of the cabaret singers I used to see on my travels to Europe.
Jane Olivor is the first to admit that she has had stage fright. She once told Pat Nason of The Hollywood Reporter that she felt like she was on top of the Empire State Building, "on the observation deck with no guard rails," when she walked out onto the stage. The artist has a bold new style but she is still shy and vulnerable. However, she is engaging when she sings.
Ms. Olivor has very little patter with the patrons and starts immediately with the song "You," followed quickly by "Kiss Me with the Wind" in a soft disco beat. Her voice is flexible in these tender arrangements. She is grand when she sings "Carousel of Love" and ventures into the audience to shake hands with everyone. There is a little of an Edith Piaf style in "One More Ride" and "Chanson." She does a satin smooth rendition of "The Last Time I Felt Like This."
In her own inimitable style, the cabaret artist sings "How are Things In Glocca Morra" from Finian's Rainbow as almost an Irish lament. Her control of vowels is excellent in "You Don't Know How Beautiful You Are" with lyrics by 14th century poet Hafiz. Neale Lundgren set the poem to music for her recent album. She sings a capella beautifully on the lovely song "The Little Drummer Boy," and sings other Christmas carols in a delicate voice, including "Adeste Fidelis," as the audience joins in. For her closing number she jives up the rock 'n' roll song, "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree."
I give great credit to Alan Blackman on piano and keyboard since this is the first time they have worked together. Both work well as a unit.
Jane Olivor appeared at the Empire Plush room through December 10th. The room is in the historical York Hotel, 940 Sutter St, San Francisco. Faith Prince appears at the room on December 12 through 17th followed by Lainie Kazan from December 27th through December 31th. For reservations please call 866-468-3399 or visit www.EmpirePlushRoom.com.