Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1096

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STAX review Feat. Steve Cropper, Donald Dunn & Eddie Floyd: 229 The Venue, London 27/07/11

Stax review: Steve Cropper & Donald 'Duck' Dunn @229The Venue, London 27/7/11
Stax review: Steve Cropper & Donald 'Duck' Dunn @229The Venue, London 27/7/11 Steve Cropper & Bill Murray: Stax Review @229 The Venue, London 27/07/11 Steve Cropper & Bill Murray: Stax Review @229 The Venue, London 27/07/11 Stax review: Steve Cropper & Donald 'Duck' Dunn @229The Venue, London 27/7/11 Stax review: Lester Snells on hammond @229The Venue, London 27/7/11 Stax review: Eddie Floyd and Donald 'Duck' Dunn @229The Venue, London 27/7/11 Stax review: Eddie Floyd, Donald 'Duck' Dunn & Lester Snells @229The Venue, London Stax review: Eddie Floyd @229The Venue, London 27/7/11 Stax review: Eddie Floyd @229The Venue, London 27/7/11

The Stax Soul review hit town and boy was I excited! Headed by the god-like Steve Cropper and featuring a rare appearance from the legendary MG'S bass player Donald "Duck" Dunn PLUS soul survivor, Eddie 'Knock On Wood' Floyd.

Things were getting heated just nicely on this momentous evening, first on the bill the newly signed (Acid Jazz) starlet Ms Jess Roberts. This girl seems to have the full package, looks talent and a whole heap of soul! She complemented the evening nicely with her catchy repertoire honed by her sterling band and the backing singers Mave and Mary who teed up their leader ever so sweetly. The crowd was quite taking with this sunderland lass, stunned that her voice had so much emotion in it as exemplified by the wonderfully whacky and stand out track 'Coming Back.' Raw talent aplenty and one to seriously watch. Eddie Pillar has picked a winner here!

So on to the main attraction... Cropper and Co kicked off with a solid one chord groove instrumental to ease themselves in. Cheery and full of bonhomie (especially to his old school friend Dunn) Cropper wasted no time in wacking out some classic Booker T and The MG'S gems such as 'Hip Hug Her', 'Summertime' and the crowd (which included Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream and Paloma Faith) lapped it up. 'Soul Limbo' sounded excellent and drummer Steve Potts (a cousin of the late great Al Jackson Jr) took an extended drum solo as poor old Cropper was having amp problems which plagued him for half the set and the poor soundman had to take a public ticking off from the telecaster master for the recurrent feedback!

Things settled down and the reinvigourated MG's kept the classic cuts coming! A souped up version of 'Green Onions' was dispatched with Memphis gusto but the real corker was the classic 'Time Is Tight.' Cropper totally rearranged it into a soul rock epic adding an almost prog rock ending taking it into another dimension with his cutting and biting guitar! By now his playing was blistering showing us exactly why he's a seminal favourite with other guitarists. The MG's were on fire which was just as well because on came Eddie Floyd AKA The Alabama Slammer! He came out like a boxer in the first round-extremely SPRITE FOR HIS AGE! The feelgood factor had arrived and Eddie's impact was immediate with the classic 'Raise Your Hand.' He had the joint in the palm of his hand still doing the do just like he use too-absolutely smashing to see.

Eddie's vibe also took the band up a further gear too and Wilson Pickett's tune '634 5789' (which Eddie and Steve wrote) had us all singing along - it was a special moment/inciteful peep at what a Stax revue show would have been like back in the golden era of soul. These guys were in the thick of it writing for Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, the aforementioned Wicked Pickett and countless others.

You have to remember Cropper was Stax's main record producer and songwriter (the Beatles were desperate to work with him) up to 1970 when he left to form his own production company. But tonight was all about recreating the glory days and Eddie and the boys (let's name check the ever so propulsive Steve Potts on drums and the deft touch of Lester Snells on hammond) didn't let us down barnstorming us with an evergreen the glorious 'Knock on Wood' Wow! The joint rocking by now. New levels of excitement were ramped up when the opening chords of 'Soul Man' kicked in and a surprise guest rocked up actor Bill Murray chipped it on backing vocals and tambourine.

So to sum it all up the soul legacy was left in tact tonight (a living blueprint for further generations) but it's sad that these are the only guys left standing and still doing it live from those halcyon days. These Memphis musicians are a breed apart humble, jovial and loving towards one another, what they've given of themselves and to the world is quite simply immeasurable. A tradition we all need to uphold, a gritty gig it sure was Amen!

Photos: Emrys Baird and Charles Pippet
Words Emrys Baird

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