Three years ago I first saw Molly Ringwald performing jazz at the Sydney Writer’s Festival. I was thrilled to be simply in her presence, to be so close to the woman who’d made such an impression on me as I was growing up. However, that night we were in a makeshift venue on a pier in Walsh Bay and the crowd seemed dominated by hipsters rather than other people who loved and adored her. Those folks probably didn’t make the effort to head out to Hurstville last Thursday night to see Molly on her return visit to our shores.
There was never a question about whether I would though. It didn’t matter to me that Molly hasn’t released another album in that time. I didn’t mind if it would be a repeat of the same show I saw way back in 2013. I just wanted to be around her again.
The Hurstville Entertainment Centre gave me the intimacy that I was craving last time. The term entertainment centre makes it sound larger than it is. It’s more like an old dinner theatre, with tables at the front to hold the cheese and dessert plates they sell at the bar in the foyer. I was perched in the front row, close enough to see Molly has barely aged since she was a teenage pinup. I certainly don’t have the legs to pull off the glitzy sequined dress she strutted out in!
She smoldered through “Sooner or Later,” convincing us all that she could have easily taken the Madonna role in Dick Tracy she auditioned for. More songs from her album Except Sometimes came, as well as tracks from an upcoming release and others she felt deserve a place in the Great American Songbook. I appreciated the set list, which if my memory serves correctly was a bit more eclectic than the one on her first tour. Jazz standards were well represented, of course, alongside modern cuts from Rufus Wainwright and Elvis Costello and show tunes from My Fair Lady, West Side Story, and Guys and Dolls. Few artists could so convincingly deliver such varied material, but Molly’s acting chops served her well here. Credit should also go to her band; only the pianist tours regularly with Molly but they gelled so well.
The songs were punctuated by Molly’s musings. I hung on her every word. I loved hearing why she selected certain songs, what they meant to her, about roles she’s auditioned for and her life as a wife and mum. While great music matters to me, that personal touch you get when an artist shares themselves with you really makes a concert special. Molly Ringwald might be better known as an actress, but she certainly holds her own as a singer.
Image source: own photos