Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Aaron Neville & Keb Mo at the Barbican

Aaron Neville has the body of a heavyweight boxer but the voice of an angel - a velvet smooth voice that can make even the dullest song sound great. Appropriately wearing a T shirt with angel wings on the back, Aaron performed a rare solo set at the Barbican last night supported by brother Charles on saxophone and an excellent band, which showcased his vocal talent in full. He started with Stand By Me (doesn't everyone?) but moved through a soul medley comprising Cupid, There Goes My Baby and Chain Gang, before launching into an excellent version of Little Willie John's Fever. After the Neville Brothers' Congo Square, Aaron sang a couple of his own hits, namely Everybody Plays The Fool and a lovely rendition of I Don't Know Much, his duet with Linda Ronstadt. He then strayed from his New Orleans roots with the Drifters' Please Stay and Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, before leaving the stage for a mellow instrumental version of Besame Mucho featuring Charles on sax.

Moving on through a couple of Bob Marley numbers (Three Little Birds and Stir It Up), he powered through Bill Withers' Use Me and a couple of other numbers before returning to familiar territory with his 1966 hit Tell It Like It Is, a superb version of Yellow Moon from the Neville Brothers' 1989 album of the same name, and finished with a sweet and perfect version of Amazing Grace.

Aaron is 70 these days but doesn't look or sound it. His voice is as wonderful as ever. I love the Neville Brothers, but Aaron's voice has always been the band's focus and this was an occasion to remember.

Kicking off the bill last night was bluesman Keb Mo - this time with his own band rather than his usual acoustic set. One of the newer bluesmen (despite being 60 years old) he featured the title track from his new album The Reflection and his set was melodic and laid back, but it was perhaps just a little too mainstream and lacking in gutsy rawness. He's a fine guitarist, and his band was first rate, but somehow his set never got going.


At 9:07 am , Blogger Nick said...

A couple of friends who were at the show complained that the sound wasn't great, drowning our Aaron's vocals somewhat. I would have to agree. I tuned into his wonderful voice, but the sound could definitely have been better.


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