Call me Russ L

I wanted to make a ‘smoking ban’ joke in this title, but I just can’t get it together

Posted in Music by Russ L on 1 July, 2007

Call it Soul week. On Friday the 29th I went to see Smokey Robinson (I like that link) at Symphony Hall. On Wednesday I’ll be going to see Al Green (for a second time).

Numerous parallels existed between this and the two soul gigs at I’d attended at Symphony Hall previously (Gladys Knight and the aforementioned Al Green). Parallel #1: A comedian opened rather than a musical act, as at the Gladys Knight gig. This Paul James (I think) from London was thankfully nowhere near as bad as that scouser last time around. Reasonably amusing, although funnier when taking the piss out of people who came in late than when doing his prepared material.

Parallel #2: Both Smokey and Al Green reminded me of Bill Cosby when rambling on between songs. I mean that in a good way. Parallel #3: … is hard to explain. Everyone there was so in tune with performer at all three gigs. It’s difficult to explain what I mean. Massive shared wavelength-ery agwaan.

Great songs a plenty, anyway, as well as his engaging manner and a hell of a band (with the twelve piece string-section being local, apparently. I’ve no idea if that’s true or not). Smokey is described by many as one of greatest songwriters ever (was the “America’s greatest living poet” quote from Dylan? That’s something else I don’t know), and of course as well as his solo stuff and stuff from the Miracles era (‘Tears Of A Clown’, ‘I Second That Emotion’, ‘Cruising’ etc) he has variety of songs he’s written for others that he can have a blast through (The Temptations’ ‘Get Ready’, ‘The Way You Do The Things You Do’ etc). Parallel #4: As with Gladys, he’s apparently recently released an album of versions of jazz standards, so we were treated to some of those too.

The main set finished with an absolutely amazing arrangement of “Tracks Of My Tears” (one of my favourites ever), which I doubt I’ll ever forget. That’s how you build up to a crescendo.

Also: see his Stevie Wonder impression at least once in your life before you die.

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