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Issue 1084

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William Bell & Tony Momrelle: The Barbican Centre, London 18/11/16

William Bell: The Barbican Centre, London 18/11/16 @bluesandsoul.com
William Bell: The Barbican Centre, London 18/11/16 @bluesandsoul.com William Bell: The Barbican Centre, London 18/11/16 Tony Momrelle: The Barbican Centre, London 18/11/16 Tony Momrelle: The Barbican Centre, London 18/11/16 William Bell: The Barbican Centre, London 18/11/16 William Bell: The Barbican Centre, London 18/11/16 @bluesandsoul.com William Bell: The Barbican Centre, London 18/11/16 William Bell: The Barbican Centre, London 18/11/16 William Bell: The Barbican Centre, London 18/11/16 Tony Momrelle: The Barbican Centre, London 18/11/16 Tony Momrelle: The Barbican Centre, London 18/11/16 Tony Momrelle: The Barbican Centre, London 18/11/16 Tony Momrelle: The Barbican Centre, London 18/11/16 Tony Momrelle: The Barbican Centre, London 18/11/16

Five-and-a-half decades may have passed since William Bell released his first record, but his passion for music is there to be seen.

After a 10 year hiatus, he returned to the recording studio with this year's release, “This Is Where I Live”, one of the surprise highlights of 2016. The title of the album doesn't refer to his native Memphis in Tennessee, but to music itself.

So when the line-up for this year's London Jazz Festival was announced, his show at The Barbican Centre was an obvious highlight among an impressive list of artists.

Support on the night came from silky smooth British Soul singer Tony Momrelle, who opened with a short but powerful set.

Momrelle, who for 10 years has been one of the lead vocalists with Incognito, has just released solo debut “Keep Pushing”, a great showcase for his impressive vocal range.

At the Barbican he was smooth, charismatic and commanding, and left the crowd wanting more when he exited the stage.

What followed proved to be a masterpiece. One of the artist which made Stax - the label of Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Isaac Hayes and many more - great, he proceeded to deliver a show which many younger singers could learn from.

At the age of 77, Bell has lost none of the magic that made his Stax recordings so special.

His set was a fusion of old and new, opening with 1977 release "Easy Coming Out" and moving onto "Three of Me" and an incredible rendition of "Poison In The Well", one of the outstanding tracks from the new record.

There were interludes in which Bell took on the world of other soul heavyweights, conveying all the emotion of Ben E King's "Stand By Me" and the joy of Sam Cooke's "Cupid".

Bell is an accomplished performer, delivering each track with raw energy and grace…each track conveys his ability to encompass raw southern soul and pulsating falsetto seemingly effortlessly.

"Private Number", perhaps his best-known record, was performed superbly, and classics "Eloise" and "You Don't Miss Your Water" were astonishing.

The band was well-drilled, and Bell is a consummate professional, not afraid to pause for effect and displaying all the confidence his years on the stage have given him.

He then proceeded to give an incredible version of "I Forgot To Be Your Lover", putting across all the raw emotion, vocal dexterity and raw soul power that make the record a classic… it was spectacular, and the audience was captivated.

The set closed with "Born Under A Bad Sign", a blues standard that Bell co-wrote with Booker T Jones.

It has been recorded by numerous artists including, he pointed out, Homer Simpson - "he sold three million copies", Bell pointed out.

It was a fantastic way to close a set which was quite simply breathtaking. He is back where he belongs, on Stax records, and in the studio and on stage he continues to keep the golden age of southern soul alive.

PHOTOS: DAVE BURKE
Words Dave Burke

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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