Call me Russ L

“Eeeeeeverybody’s talkin’ about the good old days…”

Posted in Music by Russ L on 17 July, 2006

The word ‘legendary’ is one chucked about far too readily (I’ll admit to being guilty of that myself at times), but Gladys Knight is as good a candidate for it as any. Off I went to see her at the Symphony Hall on Friday the 30th of June.

Bizarrely, as a support act we got a crap Scouse comedian and impressionist (I didn’t catch his name). I didn’t find him especially funny but he went down well, so perhaps I’m just a miserable git (the old couple sitting next to me did walk out, though, so I wasn’t alone). He did have one brilliant line: “The missus has been in a mood with me for about a month now, all because I didn’t hold the car door open for her. It wasn’t my fault… I just panicked and swam to the surface.”

Then followed a long wait. I stayed inside, but those who went out into the bar were called back far too early by the “the performance will begin in fifteen/ten/five minutes” announcements. Another long wait followed, and people began to get annoyed. A few started claps that were slightly too fast to be slow claps, but the intention was there. The band (the very impressive band, I should say – if I recall correctly there were three backing singers, two drummers, a guitarist, a bassplayer, four keyboards, and a fifteen piece brass section with a conducter) eventually took to the stage and we still had to wait while they handed out sheet music etc (that really was stupid – there’s no reason at all why simple things like couldn’t that have been set up beforehand. It was the first night of the tour, to be fair, but still…). More slow (-ish) claps, heckling (“Get on with it!” One level-checking bass note was met with a cry of “Encore!” How I laughed) and general rattiness issued forth from the audience.

It wasn’t the sort of atmosphere you’d expect at a Gladys Knight gig in the Symphony Hall.

Eventually Gladys took to the stage, and amazingly disarmed absolutely everyone immediately. She just seemed so charming and lovely. It’s standard spiel for artistes to talk about how grateful they are to their audiences for making it all possible, but Gladys came across as really genuine with it.

The bulk of her set was made up of jazz standards (it seems that she has released an album of such songs. Like the majority of people who were there, I have to confess my ignorance regarding what she’s been up to in recent years. I wouldn’t mind hearing it after this, though…) and unsurprisingly she delivered them really well. “This Bitter Earth” was absolutely heartbreaking, and “The Man I Love” really nice.

It was the classics everyone came to hear, of course. A combination of The Pips’ version and a cover of Marvin Gaye’s version (if you follow me) of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” had an almost showstealing guest spot from Merald Knight (I’d rather his comedy stylings had opened the show. I’d also like to announce that I absolutely love the phrase ‘comedy stylings’); “Every Beat Of My Heart” was lovely (a song that I think is definitely under-rated in Gladys’ cannon as well of that of this type of music as a whole); and “The Way We Were” and “Midnight Train To Georgia” (you were waiting for the mention of those two, weren’t you?) were absolutely everything you wanted them to be. No small feat.

~ Russ L, who will get this blog up to date eventually. Promise.

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One Response

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  1. china blue said, on 18 July, 2006 at 7:47 pm

    You’re right, that comedian’s line was inspired.
    That review brought back memories of seeing Candi Staton in May. I never really listened to her newer stuff, either, but it’s hard not to get caught up when the performances are so good.


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