Saturday, February 19, 2011

Great American Soulbook

To Basingstoke last night to see two 60s soul legends Gary US Bonds and Ben E King perform 'The Great American Soulbook'. Fears that this would be an evening of middle of the road nostalgia were quickly dispelled when the excellent six piece Memphis style band took the stage. Between acts they performed authentic versions of Peter Gunn, Green Onions, Time Is Tight and Soul Finger.

Ben E King, now 72, may have lost some power from his voice, but his laid back approach had the audience in the palm of his hand in two short sets (one in each half) as he went through several of his own numbers - Spanish Harlem, Don't Play That Song, Save the Last Dance For Me and, of course, Stand By Me. His other selections were pretty good too, with a couple of Ray Charles numbers (Let the Good Times Roll and Hallelujah I Love Her So), some Sam Cooke (Twistin' The Night Away and a medley of Wonderful World and Cupid), How Sweet It Is, Under the Boardwalk and, rather incongruously, Imagine.

The choices of Gary US Bonds, a mere 71, were more predicable, but his sense of humour (he took great pleasure in pronouncing Basingstoke) and strong voice and energy carried him through. Apart from his own hits Quarter to Three and New Orleans all of his choices from the 'soulbook' were crowd favourities - Midnight Hour, Soul Man, Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay, Higher and Higher, Knock on Wood, Mustang Sally, Sweet Soul Music, Let's Stay Togther and an excellent Try A Little Tenderness.

The two soul men came together for the climax of New Orleans and a reprise of Stand By Me. They joked with each other and Gary did a rather camp silly walk which he called 'soul strolling' - to Ben's consternation. Altogether, a very enjoyable show and well worth £20.


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