O’Hooley and Tidow – Live at St George’s

Album Review | No Masters | Review by Allan Wilkinson

Recorded shortly before the lock down, Belinda and Heidi’s Live at St George’s sees the popular duo on stage for the last time for a while, delivering just over a dozen of their idiosyncratic songs, which includes a selection of their most poignant songs, a couple of covers, Elliott Smith’s melancholy-drenched “Between the Bars” and Kathryn Williams’ wedding gift to the couple “Small, Big Love” and curiously, a minimum of between song banter, which as a live album, I could have done with more of.  There’s a brief spoken passage in the middle of “Beryl”, together with the off-stage music hall sing-along “All For Me Grog” and a bit of audience participation during “Gentleman Jack”, which suggests we are live; that and the applause of course, of which there is an abundance, but mostly it could’ve been for all intents and purposes a studio album.

The past ten years have seen this partnership blossom, from the small northern venues to major festival stages, both musicians gaining confidence along the way and together becoming one of our best loved double acts.  Equally at home with social anthems that are loaded with strong messages as they are with heart stopping ballads, Belinda and Heidi showcase their credentials as first rate song writers, while at the same time demonstrating their almost unique vocal blend.  Maintaining their West Yorkshire inflections throughout, their songs are littered with characters such as Beryl, Ronnie, Jennifer and Wayne, not forgetting the clever Mrs B and their most familiar figure, Gentleman Jack, whose reputation is enhanced in no small way by the song’s inclusion in the popular TV series of the same name.  Recorded at one of Bristol’s finest halls and utilising the venue’s majestic Steinway Model D, the songs spring from the floor on what has become a memorable and joyful night, before the world changed.