William Bell superb at the Union Chapel
Last night at the Union Chapel in London William showed that he is still a great singer and perfomer. Looking dapper in a smart suit and tie, white hat and dark glasses, and much younger than his years (he will be 77 on Saturday), he began not with a Stax song but Easy Comin' Out, Hard Goin' In, a track on his 1977 Mercury album It's Time You Took Another Listen. It was obvious that we were in for a treat in this intimate, rather austere, former church, as William looked and sounded superb, well supported by an eight piece UK band who, it seems, he had rehearsed with only once.
Next up it was one of William's early Stax tracks, the excellent Any Other Way (see Youtube clip below), before he moved on to three numbers from the new album - The Three Of Me, reminiscent of his I Forgot To be Your Lover, the upbeat Poison In The Well, and Mississippi Arkansas Bridge, a true story, he said, about blues clubs he visited in West Memphis when he was a young man. After a great version of Trying To Love Two, another Mercury cut, with Stand By Me thrown in, he returned to the This Is Where I Live album with the deeply soulful I Will Take Care Of You and the title track - he had gone 'back home to Stax', he said.
William left the stage, but soon returned to sing a song that he wrote for Albert King and also sang himself - Born Under A Bad Sign. It's a song that that has been attempted by everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Homer Simpson, but it's great to hear it from the lips of the man who wrote it, along with Booker T Jones. It's also a track on his new album incidentally.
I don't think anyone can have left William's show without feeling a warm glow of happiness. He was, without any doubt, superb. A living legend, and the world's greatest living soul singer in my opinion now that Otis Clay has gone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaJ1pW-sAIM