Here is another review by music journalist Seamus McGarvey, this time of a show by the Fatback Band in Westcliff On Sea, Essex on September 5.
Although I'd seen The Fatback Band last February, it had been a while since I'd seen them in a theatre setting but here they were in Westcliff's Palace Theatre, a wonderfully atmospheric old-style concert venue with an informal feel, dating from 1912, drawing a large enthusiastic crowd who were really 'up' for a good time.
Support act Basingstoke-born singer-songwriter Natasha Watts (pictured below), with her strong, wide-ranging voice and a good sense of humour ('you can move in your chair!'), set the scene well for the band. Although I was unfamiliar with her material, she worked hard at getting the audience involved, and on numbers like 'Love Who You Are', written for her son, left a deep impression.
When The Fatback Band hit the stage led by original founder-member Bill Curtis (top picture), with Ledjerick Woods (trumpet), Darryl McAllister (guitarist), Roby Lock Jr, (tenor sax), Desmond Humphrey (drums and vocals), Isabella Gordon (lead vocals), Zack Guinn (bass and vocals) and Bob James (keyboards), it was straight into a pace-setting instrumental and on through numbers like the mid-tempo 'Groovy Kind Of Day' and dancers like 'Wicky Wacky' and 'Keep On Steppin'' which took Ledjerick and Roby out into the audience, spreading the funk. The set had a well-rehearsed and well-structured feel, the band members very much in sync vocally and instrumentally, while making the most of the theatre's intimate setting with the audience up close and involved. Later highlights included the driving 'Gotta Get My Hands On Some (Money)' and the bluesy, soulful 'In The Morning' which placed Isabella firmly in the spotlight, enabling her to shine and register strongly with the audience, while 'Bus Stop' won another positive response, with Roby, Ledjerick and Isabella down in the aisles demonstrating the steps to the fans. 'Spanish Hustle' added nicely to the mix, as did the catchy 'Put Your Love (In My Tender Care)' plus the melodic mover 'I Found Lovin'', which by then saw just about everybody up, much to Bill Curtis's obvious delight. The band delivered an encore featuring 'Backstrokin'' and that was it – an exciting conclusion to a highly entertaining evening in a fine venue.
Seamus McGarvey (with thanks to Bill Curtis)