Tito Jackson - Under The Bridge, London
Guest writer Seamus McGarvey has been to see a Jackson...
Last Friday at Under The Bridge I went to see singer-guitarist Tito Jackson, the third oldest member of that famous musical family, in a rare solo performance. Although I had heard Tito perform some blues numbers a few years back, I wasn't sure what to expect, but he delivered an entertaining blend of blues and some Jacksons hits, and took the opportunity to let the fans hear six new songs from his forthcoming album, and found them well received.
I caught the last two numbers from the first support act, Larissa Eddie, who hails from Brighton and has toured with Lionel Richie and others; an energetic performer with a good voice and stage personality. Next came the band supporting Tito on the night, The Diane Shaw Band. I last saw Diane (pictured below) and her excellent band at the Northern Soul Weekender at Butlins, Skegness, last September, and they sounded equally solid this time. Before Tito's appearance, Diane performed a mix of covers from The Miracles' 'I Second That Emotion' and Fontella Bass's vibrant 'Rescue Me' through The Elgins' 'Heaven Must Have Sent You' and The Velvelettes' 'Needle In A Haystack' to Edwin Starr's 'Stop Her On Sight (S.O.S.)', all delivered with verve and a strong voice, and enthusiastically received by the audience.
Introduced on stage by Diane to excited applause from the large audience, Tito opened with a great piece of rocking blues featuring good vocals and some nifty guitar work in the shape of 'I Gotta Play' from his first solo album, and a nicely paced version of T-Bone Walker's 'T-Bone Shuffle', the band hitting just the right tempo and Tito playing some easy strolling guitar. With some jokes about his voice not being as high-flying as his late brother Michael's, along with Denise Pearson (Five Star - pictured below)) and Haydon Eshun (Ultimate Kaos) Tito launched into a selection of The Jacksons hits from 'I Want You Back' to 'ABC' and 'Dancing Machine' from their Motown days, on to numbers from the brothers' or Michael's days with Epic including 'This Place Hotel', 'Black Or White' and 'Blame It On The Boogie'. Both Denise and Haydon were in good voice and danced energetically, while Tito himself remained well to the fore and kept it all moving along.
For the final section of the show, Tito returned to his solo role and featured songs from his forthcoming album, demonstrating versatility across a range of musical styles. The numbers included a fine funky piece called 'Jammer St.' with Tito playing some nice solo guitar, the medium stepping 'So Far So Good' and the punchy 'Get It Baby'. He changed the pace for a country number, 'On My Way Home To You' which, as he explained, was 'where I started back in the day', and a medium-tempo reggae-styled number called 'Home Is Where the Heart Is', once again featuring some tasteful guitar picking. Despite all of this being new material, Tito managed to get the crowd onside and singing along, ending with another medium-stepper, 'We Made It', before the full line-up was reassembled for the closing 'Shake Your Body'. Despite loud calls for 'more!' and much chanting of 'Ti-To! Ti-To!', that was it; the end of a well-balanced 75-minute set, and an entertaining evening. Seamus McGarvey ('Juke Blues' magazine)