Key Points:

There was some delay getting to the Roberta Flack Experience on Tuesday night but fans, raked up the Civic's vertiginous circle and sardined downstairs to within a few metres of the stage, were patient.

This reviewer survived a minor dousing from a tipple toppled from the row behind and a deathless set from local songwriter, Jonny Love. Proclaiming university qualifications in his craft, Love submitted us to cosy chats, unvarying guitar strum and yelping choruses before signing off with the ironically-titled You can take me home.

Dry ice, coloured lights, and a spiralling sax solo from Arturo Tappin eventually announced that the diva was imminent and Flack wasted no time in calming restless punters with a languorous Killing Me Softly.

The lady had a sharp line in discursive banter, dishing out memories of her North Carolina childhood and temporarily confiscating a camera from an enthusiastic lenser in the stalls, commenting, "Let me get up a sweat so it looks like I'm working."

Work she did, recreating her own late-night soundtrack to the '70s and '80s. Some songs focused on Flack and piano; Jesse went straight for the tear-ducts and The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face was introduced with a spooky take-off of a gruff-voiced Clint Eastwood.

Surprises included a kooky jazz romp through Sweet Georgia Brown and having her rather bland 1988 hit Oasis anchored with a mid-song speech about Nelson Mandela.

At 72, Flack's voice isn't the cool velvet that it was 40 years ago and perhaps this was why, more than once, she coaxed the audience to sing for her, in a rousing swell of sisterly support.

The sinuous Tony Terry, playing Peabo Bryson in the duet Celebrate My Love, turned on a stunning solo turn with his own With You spinning the sort of shivery virtuosity that local soulsters could note.

Derick Hughes, his singing partner, impressed in a gospel-styled ballad, although sound levels made it a little more shattering than was intended.

Instrumentally, the star was reed man Tappin, whose soprano sax in Carole King's Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow gave out the first of his many dazzling solos.

King also provided the final of three encores and, after singer and audience had chorused through You've Got A Friend it was only too evident that Roberta Flack has no shortage of devotees down under.