THE erstwhile Elaine Bookbinder, of Salford, has been singing professionally for 59 years since winning a talent contest in nearby Manchester.

Now 74 and having worked with everyone from The Beatles and Jimmy Page to Santana and Humphrey Lyttelton, she continues to tour regularly.

Here at the Tivoli, the ‘British Queen of the Blues’, backed by an efficient five-piece band, demonstrated that the voice is as good as ever.

Devon-based Elkie strutted the stage in her unique wide-gaited way, giving the thumbs up, cajoling the audience – which included her youngest son Joseph – and encouraging the band.

Everything took a little while to warm up with the likes of Gasoline Alley, Fool If You Think It’s Over, Sunshine After The Rain and Don’t Cry Out Out Loud all coming and going without too much ceremony.

But she hit her straps with the Bob Dylan song Make You Feel My Love, followed by a cover of The Carpenters’ Superstar and her own excellent take on Nights in White Satin before Lilac Wine closed the first half

Pearl’s A Singer was dispensed with early in this concert of two halves before Elkie was at her absolute best, with the band also finally breaking free of their shackles, during a trio of bluesy rockers which kicked off with The Doors’ Roadhouse Blues.

The short second period’s penultimate number was a bizarre cover of Prince’s Purple Rain before sanity returned in the shape Bob Seger’s excellent We’ve Got Tonight

Sadly there was no room for the old Vinegar Joe classic Proud To Be A Honky Woman, but you can’t have everything.

Elkie, after a career of ups and downs, hit all the notes brilliantly, sung all the hit songs properly and gave the audience exactly what they wanted, but I can’t help thinking that a complete set of rock and blues numbers one day would go down a storm.

Cliff Moore