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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Voices
Björt Ólafsdóttir is a member of Iceland's Bright Future party
voicesIceland's Björt Ólafsdóttir on her decision to take part in #FreeTheNipple
Life and Style
The Clove Club will charge customers when they book
food + drink
News
Lapping it up: a woman feeds felines at a cat café in Japan
newsThe vast majority of cat and dog 'wet foods' contain items not specified on the tin, study finds
Sport
Andros Townsend and Paul Merson
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

    Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

    £24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

    Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat