THERE have been occasions in the past when the non-appearance of artist due to a breakdown would have been a blessed relief.

But thankfully the RAC rescued stranded motorist Hazel O’Connor from a roadside in Southport, ensuring that a most enjoyable night was had by all.

O’Connor, still best known from her Eighties’ chart hits and the film Breaking Glass, remains an intriguing figure.

A bundle of manic energy – at one point she stood on a chair to adjust one of the spotlights – her enthusiasm for her music is infectious, although all the flailing arms and jerky dancing actually detracts from some of the slower numbers.

Her voice is enticingly vulnerable and yet powerful at the same time. On occasions her throaty rasp is reminiscent of Marianne Faithfull after a packet of Woodbines, on others is a genuinely moving instrument.

Backed by former Belle Star Clare Hirst on sax and Sarah Fisher on electric piano, the set included songs from her new album Here She Comes, covers from Nina Simone to Snow Patrol and a trawl into the back catalogue.

All were backed by her engaging stage presence as she introduced each song and chatted to the audience.

A sold out crowd lapped it up as she said “this is the one they’ll play on the radio when I die” to introduce Will You. And for the record the sax solo remains as stunning as ever.

Much of the set was tinged with jazz and blues influences and the harmonies with her two collaborators were particularly impressive.

The show ended with the audience being encouraged to replicate a gospel choir while Ms O’Connor ran round the hall checking up on who wasn’t singing – it was one of those nights.