NEW YORK: It's become traditional for Melanie to appear here at a prestigious venue on her birthday, and it's also become traditional for her fans to join her on stage, sitting around in an arc as if she was a nanny about to read a bed-time story.
Last Sunday Melanie was 27 and she chose New York Metropolitan Opera House as the venue. The only other occasion when a contemporary act used the Met was when The Who played Tommy there in 1969. If I remember rightly, the Who's show was not the master-piece planned and neither, I'm afraid was Melanie's.
With the Who it was the audience who were to blame for creating an ugly situation and this is just what happened to Melanie. Hundreds of fans crawled up on stage, standing and sitting around her so that it became impossible for the rest of the audience - unless they were viewing the show directly head on - to see. The result was an endless series of barracking from the sides until the melee was sorted out. But it didn't end there. Melanie's fans seem the world's worst when it comes to shouting requests. Between every number, a third of the audience took it upon themselves to choose programme or call out other equally pointless suggestions and ideas.
It spoiled the whole simplicity of Melanie's very solo performance. In fairness to Melanie, she coped with things admirably. When she did sing, she was excellent, though she faltered occasionally on lines of songs that she hadn't played for some time. She opened with the carol, "Oh, Come All Ye Faithful" explaining that the weather made this seem appropriate. It was snowing heavily outside. The rest of the set consisted mainly of her better known compositions, but there were also songs by Dylan and Jim Croce and she included one song where, instead of sitting with her guitar, she stood up and sang by the piano while her arranger, Ron Frangipane, played accompaniment. As always she played a very long set - and there was no supporting act or interval. But at least half an hour of this time was taken up with the various delays; perhaps the over-enthusiastic fans should realise that more respect would automatically mean more music. The lay-off hasn't affected Melanie's clear, ringing voice which resounded perfectly in this grandiose establishment. Her accompaniment on the guitar remains absurdly simple, but anything more complex would wreck the simplicity of it all. That is the main attraction of Melanie. And the fact that she remained calm during all the unpleasantness was also impressive.