Classical Music: Mae ball

Vanessa-Mae Coiston Hall, Bristol

This may not be an original theory, but has anyone actually seen Vanessa- Mae and Cliff Richard in the same place at the same time? Cliff, as every English schoolboy used to know, was born Harry Webb in Lucknow, India, so he's been out east and seen a thing or two, as well as recording for EMI, Vanessa's label. And Vanessa certainly has Cliff's patter off pat. She talks in the most charming way to the audience yet she doesn't appear to say anything at all. Write it down in your notebook and by the end of the gig the words have disappeared. Vanessa and Cliff even share the same kind of curiously sexless shimmy, and while wiggling her bottom as she plays is somehow seen as deeply expressive when Tori Amos does it, with Vanessa it's more like the oddly detached eroticism one might derive (if you're lucky) from watching the women's singles final at Wimbledon - another Cliff reference-point.

Whatever did happen to Vanessa-Mae anyway, apart from the arrival of a rogue hyphen, or was it always there? Like Vanessa's patter, it's difficult to remember. But she's gone rock, that's what, recording the new Storm On album and touring the world to promote it, performing at the grand opening of the Dubai Shopping Festival, and playing an exclusive concert for the Queen and 26 Asian and European heads of state at Buckingham Palace. Plus the Kremlin, obviously. She still plays the violin, of course, but it's now part and parcel of a whole spectacular entertainment, with rock band, string section, dancers, backing singers and a laser show.

When the show begins it even looks as if the combined casts of Cats and Phantom of the Opera have somehow got in on the opening number, but as Vanessa emerges from a platform high up on the stage nobody appears to recognise her and the grand entrance is rather undermined. They still don't recognise her when she next appears amongst them in the stalls, holding a radio mike and singing Donna Summer's "I Feel Love", and all but holding up a sign saying "I'm Vanessa-Mae".

This strange anonymity is, however, clearly part of Vanessa-Mae's great appeal. The weirdly incongruent personae - part compliant bar-girl, part posh private school prefect, part girl next door - never quite fit with each other, and what remains is this undeniably charming and talented young woman who has somehow become a really big star. The classical legacy is still attended to, as her mum accompanies her on the piano for a bit of Ravel (dedicated strangely enough to the late Frank Sinatra), but the main agenda item is pumped-up pomp-rock of a fairly lumpen sort. Dressed down for the first half in wrap-around skirt, T-shirt and boots, and vamped up (but still rather decorously) for the second in a leopard-print dress, Vanessa tries to be sexy but never really puts her heart into it, despite a brief bump and grind with the dancers in the disco number. Her innocence is also echoed by the audience, and even when she says she's going to get stripped down to basics for the next number, there's not even the shadow of a nudge-nudge from the very mixed crowd, many of whom look like they've gone out looking for a garden centre and somehow taken a wrong turning.

As mass entertainment the show is oddly anodyne, but you can't help warming to Vanessa-Mae, perhaps because she's so transparent. Introducing the band at the and, it's obvious that she doesn't know most of their names, but she's enough of a trouper not to even pretend to give a toss. After all, she's Vanessa-Mae. Well, either that or Cliff Richard in very convincing drag.

Vanessa-Mae's `Storm On' world tour comes to the Royal Albert Hall, London on 1 June, and continues around Britain until June 6th.

Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk