by Hayley Burrell
It’s been 14 years since kooky lawyer Ally from the TV show ‘Ally McBeal’ decided to up-stick Boston to start a new life in New York with her daughter. But, the regular lounge singer from the programme, Vonda Shepard, kept the show’s memories alive by performing her most famous numbers at Stirling’s own Tolbooth on October 10.
The piano-based songstress began by playing from her Kickstarter funded album ‘Rookie’, which was released this year. As the album can’t be purchased in the UK, most of us hadn’t heard it, so we clapped along in polite anticipation for her usual mix of self-written classics including ‘Confetti’, ‘This is Crazy Now’ and ‘The Wildest Times of the World’ as well as her famous covers such as ‘Tell Him’, ‘It’s in His Kiss’ and the song which before it got its associations with Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, was related to the dancing baby skit (and best-selling adult toy of Christmas ’98) Blue Swede’s ‘Hooked on a Feeling’.
Ms Shepard certainly knows how to work a crowd, successfully managing to get all those who were willing and able to stand up, clap and shimmy to the music in the confines of the packed Tollbooth. Normally she would end on the Ally McBeal title song ‘Searching My Soul’ but sensing her crowd weren’t quite ready to go home yet, she continued with a further three songs during the encore and finished with a fabulous cover (complete with actions) of ‘Rolling on the River’ as a homage to her guitarist James Ralston who played alongside Tina Turner for more than 20 years.
Afterwards Vonda made herself available for a meet and greet with fans and it was at this time I asked her something that had been curiously bugging me for some time – on her only Scottish tour date did she choose Stirling to perform? She told Brig Music that not only were the people and the venue friendly (which I can attest to as despite being sold out still managed to get me a front row seat) but playing in a small town can make people feel special and get them to come out to see performances that they might not be able to in big cities. The last time Vonda was in Scotland was 2009 performing at Òran Mór, when she was promoting her album ‘From The Sun’ in which I really let myself go dancing wise to the point of embarrassment.
Considering that the age of a school leaver going to university was born the year Ally McBeal aired, it is safe to say that the audience at Vonda Shepard’s gig at Tolbooth were aged 25 and above. I have many friends who are mature students at Stirling and I saw this as an opportunity to spread some words of encouragement and in an exclusive interview with Brig she told me that her grandmother started taking up painting in her seventies – inferring that it is never too late to try something new.
If you would like to read my 2009 experience of meeting her, click here.