Saturday, July 20, 2013

Back to Porretta: day one

Back to Porretta for the annual soul festival, and after day one it is looking highly promising. Star of the first day was Latimore, who oozed class throughout his set. Kicking off with I Got To Have My Freedom his subtle keyboard skills and silky smooth voice came to the fore on one of my personal favourities of his, Take Me To The Mountain Top. Then he injected some humour with I May Be An Old Dog But I Know How To Bury A Bone, persuading the crowd to cry out bow wow (men) and miaou (women). Support band for the whole evening was Paul Brown and Heart and Gold and Latimore (now 74 and slightly more portly than in his youth), exchanged guitar riffs on the keyboards with Paul, who was attacking his own keyboard like a mad professor. The real guitarist turned his instrument back to front as if redundant. Lets Straighten It Out came next, probably Latimore's best known track, and this 14 minutes slice of soul could easily have gone on for an hour with no complaints from the audience. Sheer perfection. There were a couple of Ray Charles songs from his latest CD, Hit The Road Jack with great support from the backing singers, and an encore of Unchain My Heart, and overall this was a superbly entertaining and enjoyable set.
First act of the night, after some numbers from Paul Brown and his band, was Toni Green, a glamorous and always popular Memphis soul singer. She started really well, with Burning For Your Touch and It Ain't Working Out, and a group of Italians in the audience spelled out We Love You Toni on their T shirts. But after a lively rendition of Soulsville she suddenly left the stage, returning a few minutes later in a new gown but apparently rather distressed after singing I (Who Have Nothing). Toni finished off with Lonely Teardrops, Shout and Higher and Higher, but nothing could compare with her first two scorching numbers.
The third headliner of the evening was Mitty Collier, now a minister of religion, backed by keyboard player Rev Calvin Bridges. This was a gospel set with a choir on stage and Mitty showed that she still has an excellent voice. Her gospel version of her big hit, its title changed back to its original I Had A Talk With My God Last Night, was superb, but some of the other numbers, including one about a rainbow and the inevitable Amazing Grace, were not really to my taste, nor was her lengthy explanation about how she devoted her singing voice to the Lord after praying for it to come back after suffering from polyps in 1972. Overall, though, she was well worth seeing and hearing and very enjoyable.
Day two is tonight so watch out for further reports and plenty of photos when I get back to the UK.
Nick Cobban.


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