Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Eric Roberson,Angela Johnson & Anthony David 04/10/08 Indigo2

Eric Roberson
Eric Roberson Angela Johnson Anthony David Eric Roberson Angela Johnson Anthony David Eric Roberson Angela Johnson Anthony David

It takes a whole lotta soul to warm up the rather sterile (and seatless!) surroundings of the indigo 02 and that‘s exactly what this happy threesome achieved. Providing a rather spectacular triple bill of stateside soul, here to delivery the musical goods courtesy of Dome Records.

Breaking us in gently and first up with 'Sad Day' was Angela Johnson displaying her nifty keyboard skills from the off with this plaintive opener. Realising that UK audiences can be a bit stiff at the start AJ used her undeniable womanly guile and gracious charm to work the crowd and with an old Chaka Khan and Rufus classic, she quickly broke the ice which you’d fully expect when the backing band cranked out some stonking old school funk. This was going to be a good night!

Again leading from her trusty keyboard with a choppy uplifting version of 'On My Way' released from her outstanding debut, 'They Don't Know (2002),' demonstrated that this girl encapsulates everything that’s good about contemporary modern soul music. Angela sailed through her set with her lively arrangements allowing the music basically to speak for itself, no artifice here, my dear! I urge you to listen to her new album A Woman's Touch Vol. 1 You won’t be dissappointed. A true musician in her element.

Mark Twain said ”Southerners speak music” and he wasn’t wrong there with the next act. Anthony David, this prize gem from Atlanta Georgia hit the ground running (well he was in the airborne division!) launching into a mickey take of Estelle’s 'American Boy' extolling the virtues of picking a man from down south i.e him! Great stuff!... And whilst we’re on the subject of the all conquering but vastly (in my opion) overrated Estelle, please note a) Here’s how to use a backing band and b) note how everyone sings in tune!! (That Glastonbury set was woeful, shame on you!) I digress...

David lit up the stage with his level 42’s cover of 'Something about you' taking the evening up another level with his self assured hip hop swagger, smokey vocals and introverted but interesting demeanour, don’t mistake his casual approach for anything but pure professionalism and innate confidence in what he does best. However, just when he’s got the crowd right behind him AD changed tact and stripped it right back to just him and his guitar and that’s where he’ll stop you dead in your tracks. 'Cheating man,' with it’s lovely descending spanish chord sequence, is a tale of self examination, lame excuses and how hard it is to break the chain (John Legend take note!) it steals the show with it’s raw intensity and AD spills his heart and soul all over the stage with this one and then the blatant booty call of 'Cold Turkey' ramps up the already burning, arousing love fervour he’s getting from some of da ladies in the house! Solo, Anthony is deadly, he’ll be at your door –girls you have been warned!

Over here to promote his new album Acey – Deucey (a board game not unlike backgammon and loved by the armed forces) It's packed with original story telling infused with his own brand of heartfelt southern soul-ideal open top, diamond in the back, Cadillac, twilight cruising music and hopefully for the masses!

Now as the buzz builds up to just short of mayhem, Eric Roberson strolls on, happy as Larry and takes centre stage. From the off , he has the audience like putty in his hand. For fans of the independent soul scene, Roberson - who has five releases out through his 'Blue Erro Soul' label and now promoting 'Left' and 'Collection' - is every bit a high-profile act such as Prince, Usher or even Stevie Wonder.

This guy should be a huge super star in the big league and all the heavy hitters know that. It's refreshing to see an artist who keeps his integrity in tact, remember Erro got spat out by Warner’s when he was 19 - so what didn’t kill him made him stronger and more determined to control his musical destiny his way. Gone are the days of Jerry Wexler, there’s not a whole heap of nurturing going on with the big record companies in these modern times. Independence means full artistic license and Eric has a license to kill!

Kicking off with “Don’t Change”,a perfect opener with it’s anthemic chorus and uplifting vibe see Erro immediately connecting with the crowd (who are mainly fans of his anyway) His sheer energetic dynamism pretty much sets the benchmark for the rest of the evening’s event-a shining star indeed! Exemplary vocal prowess is a given with soulero Erro but let’s not forget his wicked sense of humour. He made the male part of the audience sing falsetto in a call and response fashion and when the crowd pulled off the high notes, he immediately questioned their masculinity and said “You shouldn’t be with no female date singing like that tonight boys!”

By the time he get’s to 'Softest lips,' fever pitch is running high and when he grabs someone’s filming mobile he directly sings into it in full smooch mode leaving the crowd in hysterics, handing it back to the lucky girl who you know won’t be wiping that off in a hurry. It’s all in a day’s work for this effortless charmer he wouldn’t get away with the comedy unless he was supremely talented and he is!

An ear for a melody, Erro possesses it all. Soaring vocals bolstered by his well honed band, featuring the unsung but heroic backing vocalist and the mean moody but ultimately magnificent Curt Chambers on guitar crisp, clean and funky when he needs to be or mosh rockingly raucous when Erro decides to exorcise his rock demons and wig out unashamedly!

You’d be wise also take in to account his freestyling - an integral part of his shows which sees Eric singing about credit crunch, the myopic Bush and of course Obama who he believes will lead America out of the dark, let’s pray and hope so-we’re with you there my son!

Other choice highlights were 'Let me Know' Ms Johnson’s song, who came on and played some majestically funky clav ala Stevie - a soul nurturing stomper of a tune with a bass line that Quincy Jones would have been proud of. This was a night of honest to goodness music and when it came to ballads such as 'Obstacles'
I could have swore I was listening to a young Luther in his hey day!

Eric’s show confirmed what good soul music is all about, uniting the crowd and raising our spirits like a gospel preacher in the grip of his ministry. His dynamic and all encompassing performance pleased his flock and should win him a whole heap of new fans into the bargain. I salute you Erro a One man church in action!

Check out his new release on Dome 'Collection' drawn from his first four albums – all of which were unreleased in Europe.
Words Emrys Baird

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