Saturday, July 23, 2011

Porretta Soul Festival - day one

The Porretta Soul Festival - Italy's annual tribute to Memphis soul - got off to a slightly faltering, and distinctly chilly, start last night, despite some impressive performances from William Bell, Toni Green, Percy Wiggins and Chick Rodgers.
First on was Chick Rodgers, a diminutive lady with a big voice, who ran through the Aretha Franklin songbook, including Respect, Ain't No Way, Natural Woman and Spirit In The Dark, plus a couple of Stevie Wonder numbers - All I Do (Is Think About You) and Superstition. Backed by Italian band Soul Village she came across strongly, but compere Rick Hutton foolishly demanded an encore when the band had already dismantled their equipment. She came back later for another Aretha number, Dr Feelgood.
Next on stage was the Austin Delone band. They are a great set of musicians and Austin is a very good keyboard player, but a selection of Booker T covers (Hip Hug-her, Time Is Tight and Chinese Checkers), Philly Dog and a rousing version of Wham (excellent work by guitarist Gary Vogensen) didn't quite hit the heights of previous years. Things degenerated somewhat when he sang a ragged version of These Arms of Mine and brought his daughter Caroline on stage to warble Soul Serenade and an Adele song, and went rapidly downhill when an ageing Italian singer received some kind of award (packed in what appeared to be a pizza case) and then did lengthy versions of Try A Little Tenderness and Satisfaction among others.
Fortunately the show picked up when the real stars of the show started to appear. First on was Percy Wiggins, who showed that he still possesses a strong voice. Looking sombre in a brown jacket, his numbers included his own They Don't Know, O V Wright's You Gonna Make Me Cry, a Sam Cooke medley of I Love You For Sentimental Reasons and You Send Me, and Al Green's Sha La La. Then, just as he was getting going, his set was cut short - a real shame I thought.
The biggest star of the night was William Bell who looked remarkably young and very dapper as he ran through some of his many hits including Easy Comin' Out (Hard Goin' In), I Forgot To Be Your Lover, Any Other Way, Tribute To A King, Private Number (a great duet with Toni Green), You Don't Miss Yout Water and Trying to Love Two. This final number turned into a medley (Stand By Me, Sad Songs, Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa, Havin' A Party and Any Day Now) and went on too long, but overall this was a highly professional and enjoyable set.
Final act in a, by now, very chilly arena was the glamorous Toni Green, who looked gorgeous as ever. She was maybe just a little too histrionic, and I felt the band (the Memphis All Star Band), were not entirely sympathetic to her, but I enjoyed her set, which included Breaking Up Somebody's Home, At Last, Say a Little Prayer and a final It's A Man's World. At one point she came into the audience and sat on someone's lap - an attempt to get warm, she said later!
I'll be putting some photos on later and there are two more days to go of what could well be a vintage Porretta. Here's hoping it doesn't rain and the weather warms up.


At 1:56 pm , Blogger branwell said...

I agree that it was a dodgy start (by Porretta's high standards) ...Austin DeLone and daughter where particularly at fault


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home