Hazel O’Connor Breaking Glass at the Horn in St Albans

PUBLISHED: 22:15 17 November 2010

Hazel in the 80s

Hazel in the 80s


BREAKING Glass singer Hazel O’Connor is appearing at The Horn in St Albans next Tuesday as one of a series of special concerts. Welwyn Hatfield Times Venue reporter Ross Logan talked to the 80s star ahead of the concert.

Hazel O'Connor

WHENEVER Venue is granted an interview with a popular musician, its usually under the agreement that we don’t take too long with the busy artist.

But while 10 minutes usually proves more than adequate, you sometimes get a feeling that these conversations are being conducted under duress – you rush through questions, scribble down answers and are ultimately left with the impression that if you just had a bit more time, you could have got that little bit more from the famous person you just hung up on.

Not so Hazel O’Connor – the BAFTA-nominated singer songwriter and award-winning actress, who’s perhaps best remembered for her starring role as Kate in the cult 1980s hit film Breaking Glass (the soundtrack to which she composed herself, and which got her that BAFTA nod).

When she calls the Welwyn Hatfield Times, she’s on the line for less than a minute – she’s just going to go and get some cheese and an apple and then she’ll be back for a chat.

"I’ve never actually played the album [Breaking Glass] in its entirety before."

Hazel O’Connor

Shortly afterwards, Hazel calls back and we talk for almost 45 minutes.

Not your average interview, then, but by her own admission, Hazel O’Connor is not your average pop star.

Personable and self deprecating, Hazel is about to embark on a new tour marking the 30th anniversary of the Breaking Glass album that made her name, including a date at the Horn in St Albans on Tuesday.

“I’ve never actually played the album in its entirety before,” says Hazel.

“It seemed like a great opportunity to gratify my older fans, and to say to newer ones ‘this is where the music came from’.”

She adds: “It’s also a good PR stunt! When you’re a one-man band in a cottage industry, you’re always looking at new angles to keep paying the mortgage.”

Touring shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for Hazel. Travel, it seems, comes naturally to her.

Having run away to Amsterdam aged 16, Hazel spent the next five years living and working in Morocco, Japan and Beirut, and crossed the Sahara desert on her way back to England.

Now an Irish citizen, Hazel spends much of her time walking her dogs near her home in County Wicklow, where she has lived for the past 20 years.

She also regularly jumps on the ferry to England, and to her hometown of Coventry where her mother, Joyce, still lives.

That is despite Joyce being diagnosed with cancer two years ago, and at the time was not expected to live as long as she has.

“I know I sound chipper, but sometimes it feels like I’m in the middle of a nightmare,” she confesses on the subject of her mother’s illness.

Last Christmas, she wrote a song for her mother, Re-Joyce, in what was originally intended as something of a parting gift.

“You can’t give a material gift to the dying; it’s ridiculous,” she says, matter-of-factly.

Hazel is releasing Re-Joyce as a charity Christmas single, to raise money for Myton Hospice in Warwickshire, which looked after Joyce last year.

The song is both a tribute to her mother and a thank you to the hospice.

“She’s a very tough, stoic and spirited lady,” Hazel says. “And I was so grateful to the hospice, which is why I wrote the song.”

She has been supported by a host of fellow 80s stars, including Toyah Willcox, Carol Decker from T’Pau, Vince Hill and Kid Creole, not to mention her new backing band, The Subterraneans.

“It was very touching to see how the human spirit works,” she enthuses. “I love them all and I can’t praise them enough.”

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