Live Reviews

On the weekend that we lost a magnificent musical voice, it was reassuring, nay, reaffirming to see Irma Thomas performing in London last night for the first time (she said) in over twenty years. Her first single ‘(You Can Have My Husband But) Don't Mess with My Man’ was released in 1960, and her voice was as magnificent last night over ninety minutes as I am sure it was in her earlier career.  

Delighted to be on stage, with a wicked sense of humour and more than happy to take requests, however obscure, she sang what she “could remember” and she could remember a lot! On occasion she just sang the vocal as the band didn’t even know the song, something a few artist would not go near attempting.

 

Dubbed the ‘Soul Queen of New Orleans’ her heart obviously belongs to that city and the most stunning moment of the night came with a vocal and keyboard cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Shelter from the Rain’, which was so intense your mind drifted to not only New Orleans but also the other  tragic events of this weekend.

 

‘Time is on My Side’ and countless greats were sung and lapped up by an adoring audience. A special show.

 

 

The tiny Junction 2 venue in Cambridge must hold around 200-300 people and ‘hats off’ to Athlete for sticking with that venue after the show sold out and not moving to the bigger Junction venue.   

 

A rather fine,’ The Robot Heart’ commenced proceedings. A four piece with gentle delicate songs not unlike an early Athlete themselves in some respects.  

 

The show itself was, the hits stripped back, which was delightful. We got the standouts from all the records plus more. Vehicles & Animals, El Salvador, Tourist, Wires and a full electric Rubik's Cube to round up the set almost 2 hours later.  

 

Carey Willetts, Bass Stephen Roberts drums and Tim Wanstall, keyboards and omnichord all seemed to be having a great time and in the end Joel said that “it was great to be part of something different”  

 

Like an old jumper you have not worn for years and when you try it on again, it fits. That's how the evening felt, perhaps, a band whose records are seldom played, back to remind us how good the songs actually are! Hats off indeed.

 

Pete

 

 

 

Photos

The light dimmed just after 8pm and the wedged Shepherds Bush Empire responded as one as the band walked onto the stage. Labelled an acoustic (first) set, the band kicked off with 'Remedy' and for the next 75 minutes stormed the Empire.

 

This first set was like some band’s entire concert and with more intensity. The band shifted between acoustic and electric as the set progressed. ‘She talks to Angels’ and ‘My Morning’ finishing the set were sublime, indeed these were so electric that I thought the band was playing straight through!

 

 A short break then it’s back plugged in and blazing, ‘Jealous Again’, ‘Oh Josephine’, ‘Hard to Handle’ (after which I had to leave for the train L ) were stunning. Yes, the band excels at the ‘jam’ moments, and there were plenty of them, but always kept tight and entertaining.