photo: Janice Gordon-Stockman

Judie Tzuke. Many of you knew. I didn’t. Oh yes I remembered Stay With Me Til Dawn but not much else and had foolishly ignored her work, assuming from the big hair album covers of the 80s that she was something like T’Pau.

Not at all. There is still a lot of hair and that’s a good thing when she describes herself as a soppy hippy. Tonight was an utter revelation to me. From Chaz Thorogood’s opening chord I sat back and allowed the sound to wash all over me. I have to say there was an Eagles sound to that opening chord and a feel of the 70s throughout, a wee bit of Janis Ian here and Carole King there.

Then more surprises. Early in the set Judie throws in Enjoy The Ride and I soon realised that you don’t confine Ms Tzuke to the 70s. This one will be known to you as a huge song for Morcheeba in 2008, written by Tzuke and indeed she was the featured vocalist. Many of you knew. I didn’t!

When you go out to see an act like Judie Tzuke who has over 20 albums and a 40 year old body of work you usually find that you hear 15 songs from the first three records and maybe one or two more recent. Not so tonight. Many of the songs tonight are from her last few records and even a couple from an album out at the month’s end. 

This lady is a songwriter of the highest quality. The structure of song, the melodies and choruses, the introspective lyrics like Jackson Browne or Joni Mitchell; there’s a lot catharsis. 

I was particularly struck by So Emotional, Thunder, Midnight In London which Bette Midler felt was too personal to cover, her reworking of Rudyard Kipling’s If poem and The Ballad of Davey Graham. The latter tribute to legendary English guitarist of the sixties and added to a cover of John Martyn’s May You Never we were again feeling that 70s vibe in a 21st century way.

A massive shout out in all of this to her guitarist Chaz Thorogood. A virtuoso player given his moment on The Ballad of Davey Graham as well as a couple of his own songs that suggests he is to be investigated himself.

Also to T.I.G.Y. the name coming from Thoughts I Give You, a WhatsApp group name for singer Bailey Tzuke, her mother Judie (of course) and her other sister. T.I.G.Y. are Bailey and her husband the very talented Matthew Racher. The apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree and the Tzuke songwriting gift has been handed down. Their support set highlighted some fine songs and a debut CD worth seeking out (I did). Bailey also gave backing vocals throughout her mother’s set and Matthew some percussion. Those family harmonies were beautiful, Bailey filling out even wider her mum’s wonderful voice.

A wee note for Fitzroy too. My office (church) never sounded so good. The lightest touch of Matthew’s percussion clear as a shaker, Chaz’s guitar perfect and that sound of harmonies filling the place so gently… washing over… No beers precariously perched, clinking glasses or endless trips to the toilets… Sublime!


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