THE DOOR quietly opens and the long haired girl enters with a couple of steps, pauses and looks about her.
The level of conversation suddenly drops, leaving a boisterous gentleman poised in mid-sentence. He stops abruptly and almost apologetically swallows his drink. All eyes are now focused upon the slightly nervous yet welcome intruder. She looks tired as she hesitates, quickly scans the anonymous faces before smiling at one she recognises, as if she were a self-conscious teenager debuting at her first grown-ups party.
Someone says, "Hello, how are you?" The young girl Melanie replies in the affirmative. She moves forward, - accepts the seat offered to her, relaxes, smiles again but this time with an air of confidence. Interrupted conversations resume once again.
Melanie, singer-songwriter, gives little indication that half-an-hour earlier she had left three thousand devotees on their feet pleading for more of her magic.
Backstage at London's Rainbow Theatre, the hour is late and not at all conducive for either artist or writer to converse and elaborate at any length. It's been a long day.
People interrupt our conversation, a thousand electric flash guns explode, tape recorders whirl . . . "step right up folks, all aboard the Merry-Go-Round,"
Aside from her undeniable artistry, it has been Melanie's aura
of almost child like naivety which has been responsible for the
show of solidarity which has accompanied her remarkable success.
To her admirers, Melanie is child . . .sister . . . unattainable lover, all the rare qualities of which enigmatic stars are born.
"Believe me . . . I'm not so wide-eyed, I've experienced things," she replied after evaluating her position.
"I thought I was getting away from my subconscious child-like image. Personally, I feel that all performers have to approach their art with an innocence, as though it were for the very first time."
On the subject of the explicit autobiographic contents of her writings she felt, "I know quite well that all my songs have been written by others time and time again, in different contexts. But you have to have this innocence otherwise you wouldn't be able to do them."
As our conversation seemed to be pivoting around her song writing, it was only natural that we should discuss her latest album of exquisite songs, "Gather Me."
At this point our opinions differed. I felt that her songs didn't need the orchestral trappings supplied by Roger Kellaway. Melanie's defence was straight to the point.
" I think 'Gather Me' is my best album ever. It's exactly what I'm doing at this moment and I must admit that I enjoy just about everything about it."
"Roger Kellaway and I got on so well together and everything
fell together so naturally."
I conceded that as far as a working relationship was concerned this might be so, but on stage she didn't need supporting musicians to enhance her performance.
" Why I don't do it on stage is because I feel the audience are the musicians," she began, in answer to my line of questioning.
"On record, you've only got sound and nothing else. You don't
have a living sound, but a recorded sound, and as you know there
is quite a difference."
"Funnily enough, if I record in front of an audience I don't feel like I've made a record because.. I don't do anything different --- I just sing and play my songs."
As an afterthought, she laughed as she admitted, "Anyway, I like working with session musicians."
Save for an album of previously self-rejected material ("Garden In The City"),
"Gather Me" is the final
offering from Melanie under her existing contract with Buddah
records. From here on in all product will be made available through
her own label, Neighborhood Records,
which has been inaugurated by her husband Peter Schekeryk. .
"It's going to be better this way," she states. "By having our own label we won't be pushed into releasing albums. We will be able to work on the concept, decide upon the covers and packaging without being hassled."
Did this infer that a new Melanie album, was imminent on Neighborhood? "No. I'm not in a hurry to put out an album. I like "Gather Me" and that's it for now," Melanie emphasised the word "it."
In the last year or so Melanie has eased up on her schedule of personal appearances - the result - a rush for tickets within hours of a concert being announced.