Monday, December 7, 2009

Live Review: EDDIE FLOYD

Saturday, April 12, 2008 
Prince of Wales

The DJs of PBS who set the scene for soul titan Eddie Floyd are a rare breed, and one we should be eternally grateful for. Pierre Baroni, Manchild and Vince Peach do a sterling job of playing 7-inch records, many of which sound familiar through being sampled and which reinforce the theory that almost all good modern music owes something to soul. Horn blasts, song structures, astonishing vocalists, levity of subjects and loquacity of hips; it's all there in an ingeniously composed four minutes. All of these elements are present in the songs that comprise Floyd's set tonight too, a set whose opening seconds lay waste to any suspicion that this might just be an occasion to go 'Shit. THAT guy wrote Knock On Wood'.

The be-suited and behaved Bamboos stride out and start with a funk introduction that is dangerously slick, busy and a bit 'Daptones'-younger-show-off-brother'. Thankfully, with the arrival of tonight's star performer, they slip into a perfectly-toned and restrained bang-on-the-money professional soul revue. Boy are they tight. Only guitarist Lance Ferguson's lack of space in his guitar solos (a very minor quibble, but these things get magnified when the listener is so familiar with the sound and feel of a soul band) give away these guys as ring-ins.

Eddie Floyd. 74 years old and every year spent grinding out soul songs and delivering stellar shows it would seem. From the black handkerchief sprouting from from the top pocket of his immaculate white silk suit to the copious sweat that he never uses it to wipe from his face, to the way he paces the stage you know you're in the presence of Legend.

Given a rousing and perfectly-pitched introduction from PBS presenter Mohair Slim Floyd kicks off the show with Raise Your Hands. A plea he echoes dozens of times throughout the night as he rouses the crowd again and again to sing along, clap and get involved. 634-5789 'A song I wrote for the wicked Wilson Pickett' follows and it's clear that though Floyd doesn't seem to know the name of the Bamboos members, they are a golden match. Soon drawn to certain female members of the crowd, Floyd's voice is in fine form and many a lady is serenaded during I Never Found A Girl, and Love Is A Doggone Thing. After a barnstorming version of the overlooked sould classic Big Bird ('this is a song I wrote in an airport in London just after I found that Otis' plane had gone down') and two songs from the Stax stable Soul Man and Dock Of The Bay Floyd seems to be pointing the mic at us a little more and forgets most of the words to People Got To Get Together - but hey, the man is 74 and singing like a man half his age and when he does sing, it's magic. Closing anthem Knock On Wood drains his last and the audience have nothing but glee on their faces when leaving. Hats off to those who brought him here and to the great man himself.

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