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Tracey Thorn review: From singing star to literary diva

The Black Box, Belfast

By Michael Conaghan

What with Morrissey currently preparing the world for a forthcoming novel, you're as likely to find an 80s indie star at a book signing these days as at a gig.

But arguably it's Tracey Thorn who had made the bigger literary impact.

Bedsit Disco Queen documented her time in Everything But the Girl and earned her comparisons with Alan Bennett. Her follow-up Naked at the Albert Hall is not so much a sequel as an examination of the role of the singer.

She began by confidently reading extracts from her book at the Black Box's famous lectern "a bit headmistressy", concentrating initially on Dusty Springfield, revealing an intelligent and fluent style in which Roland Barthes and Neil Tennant could cohabit in adjoining paragraphs.

The conversation ranged from her stated intention that her previous book had been about the "demythologising of being in a band" to a controversial confession of being a fan of X Factor, about which she was more forthcoming than her political past. It was, just like the average Everything But the Girl gig, a likeable performance, and though one sensed she would like to have had more time to think about some of the questions, her assertion that she would like to have a song covered by Adele, and that Amy Winehouse' s Back to Black was her Desert Island disc, were in themselves revealing.

Four stars

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