I've just come back from seeing Solomon Burke, one of the old Soul guard (Wilson Picket, Ben E King, Otis Redding) who wrote "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" which of course was made world-famous by the Blues Brothers.
The gig was in - wait for it - Little Abington as part of the Cambridge Fringe Festival
(I don't think there could be a better place for defining Cambridge Fringe than that place ;o)), which I only learned about this afternoon when I got the localsecrets email with the free ticket promotion (be among the first 50 to reply and claim a free ticket). Guess who managed to get one.
Good thing it had a full address with postcode or otherwise it would have been hard to find. No signage for the festival, I only spotted the marquee when I had already driven past.
Organisation was inexistent as apparently whoever had the tickets didn't turn up so people queued at the restaurant to get pseudo tickets (printed on their cash register) but surprisingly, the gig started only with 15 minutes delay.
First up was a band from Liverpool called
who were a garage soul band. Not bad individually but the real groove didn't really happen, especially not compared to what followed afterwards. The singer looked like a chav who wanted to be Mariah Carey (but fortunately didn't whine quite as badly). Not bad to listen and tap your feet to but nothing that really tore you of your seats.
A short reset of the stage (in the aforementioned marquee with large white round tables and plastic chairs around it, like a wedding reception) later, Burke's band entered the stage, old school, all in tuxedos and white shirts (except the lead guitarist who wore a black suit, black shirt and a grey tie), starting off with an instrumental version of (er, the heat has melted my brain, I can't remember which Soul classic it was), merging into a fantastic blues.
The band had a four piece horn section, g, g, b, dr, p, the coolest and the most outrageous black and blind organist EVAR. The sounds and noises he extracted from that old piece of junk furniture (for that's what it looked like, like one of those antique sideboards that have the top bit missing) were absolutely amazing and that foot pedal was just crazy. Oh, and two gorgeous backing singers.
After this introduction, Solomon Burke was wheeled onto the stage. After several people helped him extract from the wheelchair, he was seated on his huge throne.
Now, imagine a huge, morbidly obese black man in his mid 60s, with a kind, friendly preacher's face framed by a neatly trimmed beard, wearing an equally huge, glittery, PURPLE three piece suit, and you have a rough description of what the main act of the evening looked like.
Then they really started to get going and didn't stop until almost two hours later. Right after the first song, he stopped the band and told the audience to better get off their seats and move forward (remember the wedding reception setup?) or else. Sitting in the front, I had only waited for that because all I wanted was to dance my little socks off to the fantastic groove.
They basically went through most of the Atlantic Record hits with a few jazz oldies (Wonderful World etc. thrown in) and Rock'n'Roll classics thrown in. Utterly, utterly amazing. Despite sitting on his throne all the time, Burke was very animated and instantly likeable. Awesome singer, too. *hat off*
I would very happily have paid the 28 quid for a real ticket but as it was free, even better.