Seemingly it was her first ‘big’ stage outing with six musicians and two backing singers but it came across and sounded as if Wirral based – but Athens born - vocalist Calli Hughes had been performing this kind of super octane show for decades, so effortless did she make it look.

There was a buzz of anticipation humming through the Floral Pavilion’s sold out Blue Room for what was tagged as a celebratory concert of Cohen and Dylan songs, a repertoire of material Calli says she has long wanted to tackle.

The show was promoted by Wirral’s highly acclaimed Hand in Hand Theatre Productions outfit with whom Calli, who trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, has also appeared, including a stint singing on the Royal Shakespeare stage in Stratford.

For sure many folk know of Calli as a singer and she has worked as a lead vocalist with several bands across the musical genre and with personalities such as Sean Styles, Pauline Daniels and Mickey Finn, and she also has a fine track record in teaching music at both Wirral High School and LIPA.

But here, she was out in front of an audience that clearly knew the source material by heart, indeed glancing around it wouldn't be far fetched to presume that many of the songs Calli had chosen had probably been the baseline for a lot of people’s emotional life trajectories, as they had been for the composers.

Sporting a striking scarlet outfit, Calli’s first set was focused on Leonard Cohen and she escorted us through the weals, woes and passions of the late and already legendary Canadian poet. Her soft and yet often soaring vocal range delivered sparkling versions of such memorable songs as ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’, ‘Song of Bernadette’, ‘Bird on a Wire’, ‘Suzanne’ and of course the inestimable ‘Hallelujah’.

Her magnetic stage presence was enhanced by the band, which included a guest appearance by the outstanding violin player Kate O’Brien whose own 20-year track record spans the whole range of the entertainment and musical world.

Her other ‘guest’ was Wallasey’s own Brian ‘Saxophone’ Jones who is actually renowned and revered in his own right through his links to the mighty Undertakers beat band in the 1960s who had a cult following in the fabled Iron Door club.

Here, Brian’s superb tenor sax was a fitting addition to a lively line up that included guitarists Mike and Mark Hughes, drummer Mal Peters, Keyboards Paul Tolley and singers Nicky Tolley and Joanna Hewlett.

Switching to a black costume for the second act that featured a range of Bob Dylan songs that demonstrated that fifty years and more on the now gravel voice bard’s stuff has a resonance that echoes to this day, Calli was by now in her element, and the audience quite literally in her pocket.

As she introduced some of the songs – such as ‘Don’t Think Twice’, ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ and the haunting ‘Simple Twist of Fate’ – Calli gave a little breakdown of the background to each which highlighted her warm rapport with the audience.

Her semi-rock versions of ‘Masters of War’ and ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ were actually a master class in themselves and she and the band enthusiastically swept into a cracking upbeat, exhilarating version of ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’.

With this marvellous outing Calli has surely not just boosted her mojo but found her forte in showbiz: an ability to interpret a wide range songs but with a fresh and exuberant style. Look out for future shows!

Five stars