Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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The Whispers: Indigo2, London, 14/05/11

The Whispers: @Indigo2 14/5/11
The Whispers: @Indigo2 14/5/11 The Whispers: @Indigo2 14/5/11

The Whispers returned to London for the first time in 27 years for what proved to be more of a feelgood nostalgic gig than a trailblazer. The laid-back nature and the make-up of the audience would attest to this. Stretched out around the ample wide floor of the venue was a seemingly endless sea of 40 somethings, including a surprising large of male groups and loved up couples taking a trip down memory.

The Indigo2 lends itself very well acoustically to the brand of 70âs and 80âs of Saturday night seductive soul and soul funk that the Whispers play but the gig probably needed a warm-up support act to put everyone in the mood. Howver, they didnât get it. Instead the audience were treated to a DJ playing rare groves at volumes that could have rivalled a pneumatic drill. I must be getting old, as after an hour of this I was more than ready for The Whispers to come on.

At 9:15pm there was some movement on stage, however still no Whispers, this time just their band â a couple of light jazz funk instrumentals that were pleasant enough but essentially this was pre-amble and they were beginning to lose the crowd. Then after seven or eight minutes, finally the event everyone had come to see â The Whispers casually strode on the stage with smiles and a few friendly waves. In their dazzling stylish white suits they did not disappoint. They got into position; Nicholas Caldwell maintained a dignified seating stance for most of the show just behind the other 3 Whispers who stood at the front. Tallman Leaveil Degree towered over the twins Wallace and Walter Scott as they launched purposefully into 'And the Beat Goes On'. Bearing in mind that The Whispers did not chalk up as many hits in the UK and Europe as they did in the US and that this was probably the biggest one worldwide, it was a brave move to go full on with this song for the first number. It did stir up the crowd though, as memory lane came flooding back. It also gave everyone the opportunity to see those trademarks fancy foot and hand moves, shuffles and jumps that would characterise much of the concert.

The set list contained a number of more up-tempo numbers, some funky and others for example, like 'Letâs Go all the Way' with a light disco touch. This was punctuated by a series of slower ballads delivered with impeccable vocals such as the smoochy slow 'Lady', the sentimental 'Iâm Gonna Make You my Wife' and the chic sensual 80âs soul of 'In the Mood'.

The show was not all song though. There was plenty of chatter with the audience. These charming true old style entertainers made it absolutely clear that they play âold skool R'n'Bâ and thatâs what the evening was to be about. There were also moments when they flirted with the collective ladies in the audience and werenât averse to having jokes with one another, particular over baldness and hair loss and about who was the more attractive of the twins.

As the pre-encore part of the set came to close, it was back to familiar territory for the audience with the massive UK 1981 hit 'Its A Love Thing', which put a real party vibe into the crowd. The show was rounded off in the encore by the deeply funky US Top 10 track 'Rocksteady'. The group took their well deserved bows in gentlemenly fashion and left the stage with funky instrumentals from The Whispers band playing them off. There was nothing especially radical or demanding about this gig but it was 1 hour and a half of pure enjoyment and did exactly what it was supposed to - that is, entertain and send the folks home happy.
Words DARREN LEWIS

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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