Jane McDonald

Live at the London Palladium

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Several years before Simon Cowell began his attempt at world domination, the biggest reality TV pop star in the U.K. was a cruise ship singer in her late thirties from Barnsley. However, it was a fly-on-the-wall documentary, The Cruise, rather than a talent contest, that endeared Jane McDonald to the nation. Following a number one album and Top Ten Christmas single, few would have predicted the short-term publicity granted by the TV show would have resulted in a career lasting well over a decade. But in 2010, McDonald is perhaps more popular than ever, reaching number nine with her fifth studio album, Jane, the previous year, and appearing as a regular on the hit daytime TV show Loose Women. Now, for the first time, she releases a live album, recorded during her sold-out show at the London Palladium. Unsurprisingly, it's dominated by her trademark renditions of lounge-pop standards and powerhouse ballads such as Mama Cass' "It's Getting Better" and Jennifer Holliday's "And I'm Telling You." It's a predictable set list, which apart from the couple of original compositions, you suspect hasn't really changed since her '90s beginnings. However, McDonald's career hasn't exactly been built on an ability to reinvent herself, so fans of her cabaret-style sound will not be disappointed by its greatest-hits feel. McDonald herself is in fine form, belting out the likes of "Give Me Time" and "You're My World" with aplomb, and injecting a sense of fun into the three medleys that tackle disco, Burt Bacharach, and Motown, while the 15-piece orchestra provides a string-soaked grandiosity to tracks like "One Night Only" and "One Voice." A collection of consistently well-performed songs peppered with amusing anecdotes, Live at the London Palladium cements her reputation as a modern-day Cilla Black.

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