The interior décor of the Thornbury Theatre – all Grecian fops in togas with lutes and tough acting gryphons – is a perfect match for this evening’s entertainment. There is no word for deep frivolity (I want to believe the Greeks had one) but that’s what we’re anticipating this evening: the possibility of biting off more than can be comfortably chewed. And chewing it.

It is only inappropriate to describe Teeth and Tongue as being at the top of their game to the degree that they are almost certainly getting better all the time – which is to say – the top is yet to come. I surely can’t be the only person, however, who feels uneasy about Jess Cornelius’ insistence on controlling both the recorded output and the promotion of the group as being her project with assistants; what has emerged now, it has to be said, is as much a group as the Laughing Clowns, or the various lineups of Wings, or Skyhooks were groups – notwithstanding the presence of a crucial central songwriter/visionary.


And indeed Cornelius has her own Jeff Wegener, Denny/Linda, Fred Strauks figure in Marc Reguiero-McKelvie, the most extraordinarily talented ‘offsider’ imaginable, providing just the right amount of texture and colour to all her work.

Adalita’s set is structured classically. Half a set from the band; a couple of solo songs; the band return one by one; rousing finish. She doesn’t address the audience until she’s five songs in (then it’s ‘how y’goin’). There is a lot of guitar changeover, with a tech later acknowledged as ‘Steve’ physically similar to the actor Jacek Koman often on the stage proffering newly tuned and capo’d guitars. ‘I really wanted to do a special show’, Adalita tells us, ‘and here we are.’

The songs are often simply structured, and the band sound like the Faces, or Crazy Horse, or occasionally just occasionally, like Sweet – who, when you think of it, are a bit like a very concise Crazy Horse-Faces mix (with a bit of Big Country thrown in as a sweetener). Adalita (and her men, but it’s ultimately all on her) is not afraid to occasionally experiment too much and put a foot wrong as in an improvisational lead break in her solo spot. But that’s one of the things that made the show great, and one of the reasons why she is, for want of a better description right now, a beloved entertainer.

The highlight of the set is undoubtedly a new song, ‘Private Feeling’, which she delivers alone and with gusto. Once heard, never forgotten, it goes to the heart of why we’re here; not because Adalita speaks for us (no voice of a generation here), or because we want the inlooking musings of a singer-songwriter thrust before us, but because she presents a world both accessible and individual(istic). It’s also a pop song, a classic, a song that would have struck a chord any decade since the late 1960s, with any audience in the western world.

A keyboard called Lucifer – christened, she says, by Magic Dirt – is brought to bear in a most enticing way; it’s like Vini Reilly’s doing a slow jam with Ivor Cutler. ‘Perfection’, cries someone from the audience; ‘you are perfection!’ yells a second man.

Actually, the show wasn’t perfection, but who would want that? It would have made a spectacular live album, barnacles and all – so fine was the sound, and the seat-of-the-pants feel. ‘There’s a lot more stuff coming,’ says Adalita, obliquely adding that we (or she?) ‘Don’t have much time left’ but that ‘It’s all good.’

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