REVIEW | Ian and Claire’s Christmas Cracker – Turner Sims

T’was the night of the show, and all you could hear, was beautiful music, bringing festive cheer!

Last week I headed back to the Turner Sims in Southampton for my second musical event in one week – this time, a festive evening with Ian Shaw and Claire Martin – both jazz singers and radio presenters. This event was called Ian and Claire’s Christmas Cracker, and I was hoping for some excellent surprises inside (and a corny joke or two!).

I was very excited for an evening of Christmassy music, but, just like my previous visit to see Music on the Mind, I wasn’t one hundred per cent sure what to expect. The Turner Sims was promising me ‘an evening packed with winter warmers and classic songs from both the Jazz and pop canon’ – would it delight, or dismay?

Once again, I settled into my comfy seat in the auditorium, and it was the first time I had felt festive that week. There was a really peaceful atmosphere, with low lighting, and a simple grand piano graced the stage, accompanied only by a Christmas tree. Quite a contrast to the full-on experience at my previous show!

Ian and Claire arrived and brought with them laughter and cheer. As soon as they walked onto the stage I knew I was in for a treat. It was clear that this was to be a relaxed, cosy evening of music and fun.

The duo weaved between classic and Christmas tunes, as was advertised, but the performance was peppered with hilarious quips and anecdotes. They were real – with a couple of little ‘oops’ moments which made it feel we were being entertained by friends. I will confess, though, that my stomach dropped when they invited the audience to sing along if they wanted! However, we were encouraged, and at the right time this audience participation was wonderful (something I will go onto in a bit).

I loved hearing some unfamiliar ‘classics’ being performed, and I felt thoroughly soothed by the music. Ian and Claire are both so incredibly talented and it’s obvious that they love what they do.

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However, the Christmas tunes were a true highlight for me, and in particular a cover of Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song which was really beautiful and became one of my favourites of the evening. I felt warm and fuzzy – as if I really was by an open fire.

The evening was also a dedication to the great talents lost this year. Ian in particular highlighted what a tough year 2016 has been, and how many famous names and artists we’ve had to say farewell to. This prompted a couple of tributes, with Leonard Cohen and Peter Vaughan given a special mention.

The tribute to Greg Lake was really a poignant moment for me. Coming towards the end of the evening, it was a simple, slow version of his hit I Believe in Father Christmas. When the audience were encouraged to ‘la la la’ along to the chorus, I could barely join in. I found my face wet with tears and my throat tight with emotion. Considering Greg had passed away just the day before, it was a very moving moment, and I found myself in tears, despite trying hard not to cry! This was my favourite moment and will stick with me for a long time, especially since it’s one of my favourite Christmas songs. It was a lovely tribute to Greg Lake and a reminder that Christmas is also a time to remember those we have lost.

I didn’t just cry tears of sadness, though – I also wept from laughter! In complete contrast, Ian had written a hilarious ditty entirely about text speak and modern technology which had the audience in fits. A little crude interlude amongst the classy tunes, it was a great example of the breadth of talent the pair possess. The pair kept me giggling throughout the evening with their tales and quirks.

Ian and Claire were brilliant and it was so obvious that they were enjoying themselves. There was no pretentiousness – and I was re-introduced to my love of Jazz music.

There is so much more I could say about the evening, but I’m wary of going on! Overall,  I had a wonderful time, and left feeling incredibly pensive, festive, happy and cosy. It was nother lovely evening of music and talent at the Turner Sims.

Thank you to the Turner Sims team, Ian and Claire for bringing some Christmas magic to Southampton!

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