Filmed at Union Chapel, London, November 2010, the gig features songs from the Gift album as well as songs from Norma’s childhood and her solo albums, some of which had never been performed live before. The result is a delightful collection of songs from a range of sources. Norma herself describes the evening as a musical autobiography, linking many of the songs to anecdotes from her childhood.
The set includes traditional standards such as Bunch of Thyme and Fare Thee Well Cold Winter as you would expect, but there are a fair number of musical surprises. Norma’s admiration for Richard Thompson’s songwriting is evident in the inclusion of Al Bowlly’s in Heaven, God Loves a Drunk and Joseph Locke - the latter delivered with much drama.
Union Chapel is a beautiful venue and seems to create a relaxed and intimate atmosphere, perhaps enhanced by the fact that all the performers (apart from the double bass player) are seated. Add to this the gentle banter between Eliza and Norma, and Norma’s anecdotes and you have the ingredients for a wonderful evening’s entertainment.
The gig was filmed shortly before Norma was suddenly taken ill, but there is no hint of frailty in the way she delivers a song - each one is delivered with passion and conviction. In such a varied collection it is hard to choose favourites, but two songs in particular which stand out for me are Fred Astaire and Poor Wayfaring Stranger - the latter won a BBC Folk Award in 2010 for Best Traditional Song (and the Gift album itself won the Best Album category).
The choice of material is a little self-indulgent at times (especially the encore), but why not if you belong to a great folk dynasty? And whilst not all the songs are as polished as they could be, neither are they delivered in a slap-dash manner. Eliza and Norma exhibit a joy in the music, and seem to relish performing together, especially as their voices blend so well.
The gig ended with a well-deserved standing ovation, and the DVD is a fine memento of what must have been a magical evening.