Sunday, 4 February 2007

Soul Britannia Allstars

Despite my weakened state, I *had* to go to the Soul Britannia Allstars concert at the Barbican last night, if only to see the lovely Linda Lewis and Madeline Bell share a stage. I didn't realise it, but it was being recorded for BBC4 and will screen on 23 February.

The bit I wasn't expecting was that it was hosted by Pauline Black (formerly of The Selector way back when) which was a bit of a thrill. Even more of a thrill was seeing Janet Kay on stage in the first section and she sang 'Silly Games'! Now I won't pretend that Janet is one of my favourite singers or anything but seeing her sing that song from 1979 was pretty special, and she hit the high notes. Cor! She was doing a show called 'Queens of Lovers Rock' with Carroll Thompson for another BBC4 programme.

After the interval we moved on to Soul Britannia and short sets from various people such as Carol Grimes, Hamish Stuart of the Average White Band, Cymande and others, none of whom I'd really heard of before (ok, I've heard of the AWB but they never really rocked my boat). Then on came Madeline Bell, looking good in black leather trousers and black sparkly top, looking like she was having the time of her life and with the confidence of a grand dame of music. She only did three songs (including an old Blue Mink song I didn't recognise) but she was in fine voice considering she's been belting it out since the '60s.

Linda Lewis was on next next and opened with 'Rockadoodledoo', hitting all the high notes as well as the low, throaty ones. That's one of everyone's favourite Linda tracks and was, I think, her first hit. She only did three tracks as well but it was great to finally see her on stage. I got into Linda in the mid '70s, bought a few albums and then punk exploded. I've never really thought of her as 'soul', she's more in the singer-songwriter tradition along with contemporaries Labi Siffre and Cat Stevens.

It was great to see Linda and Madeline but how come they only got three songs each and Hamish AWB got four? And his were long songs too. That's hardly fair. They all came back on for an encore to close the show - that's Linda and Madeline holding hands just off-centre to the left in the rather poor photo below.

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