Thirty years of any career deserves a celebration. Surviving thirty years in the MUSIC industry is a particular accomplishment. And so friends, fans and family were called together to honour Judie Tzuke.
Arriving early at The Bedford in Balham, we were able to take seats at the front of the stage.
Compere for the night, Vin Goodwin opened the evening’s events with a satirical take on Judie’s best known song “Stay with Me Till Dawn”. Vin was a charming and affable presence to host the events and as he left the stage he was replaced by the heavily pregnant, Mia Silvas. Mia took lead vocals on the next song, “Bully” and was supported by Bailey and Tallula Tzuke. Vin’s opening satire had reminded us that Judie is best known for her ballads and an aggressive and fiery rocker like “Bully” is a necessary balance. In some ways, it is surprising then that not more of songs of this kind were used and the evening did rather concentrate on those self-same ballads.
Between the ballads and the occasional rocker, more than 20 musicians took the stage. Speaking poignantly of Judie’s role in encouraging their musical and personal development, there were those who had written with Judie and those who had performed with her and recorded with her. The few for whom great distance meant they could not be present had sent their video greetings. Judie’s former keyboard player and co-writer, Bob Noble sent his greetings from the United States. Lucie Silvas who is also now living in the U.S. and whose solo career Judie helped to launch not only sent a message but her version of Judie’s wonderful song “Joan of Arc” was recorded and played – and accompanied by video images that Vin had developed for the occasion.
Tony Moore contributed his version of Judie’s mid-paced, mid-life crisis number, “the Cup of Tea Song” which he stretched out to meet the needs of his voice, whilst Tom Baxter performed three songs with his band that Judie had helped him write for his own albums: “Icarus Wings”, “Skybound”, and “Love is Not Enough”.
Highlights included Lorna Blackwood delivering her own version of one of Judie’s strongest recent songs, “Dark Days”, and Vashti’s take on “All at Sea” which originated on the same album.
Many of these very capable singers commented how difficult it was to sing songs which Judie had written for her own range and for her own sense of melody. Bailey recalled how she had forced her Mum to sing “Choices You’ve Made” on a recent tour before finding how difficult that rocker is to sing and promising never to obligate her in that way again.
Ms Tzuke’s ear for young and up and coming talent was shown by the performances by Laura and the Tears (“See You Later”) and Tim Deal (“Parallel Lives”) both of whom have emerged under Judie’s tutelage.
One of Jude’s first compositions was “Ladies’ Night” and there was something particularly poignant about hearing it performed by her eldest daughter as Bailey returned to the stage following on from a gentle performance of the beautiful ballad “One Minute” by Mia.
Only one thing remained to round out the evening – the chant of “Jud-ie” went up and the lady in whose honour the whole evening was put together was encouraged to come to stage. Visibly moved by the whole occasion, Ms Tzuke, the elder, complied. Joined by Richard Cardwell, she first performed a beautiful version of “Man and A Gun” from her “Wonderland” album. This was followed by the predictable but essential “Stay With Me Till Dawn. Friends old and new – Mike Paxman, Ben Mark et al – joined her on stage. Pax took his signature solo on the hit and rousing applause and standing ovation aside before we knew we were spilling out into the night.