Monday, April 14, 2008


Well how did this happen? I often go to gigs and don't come back with any photographs (and the size of the Bridgewater Hall - 2000 seat concert hall - means a camera phone from the first circle just ain't gonna do the job) but I somehow managed to come back without my ticket stub. Despite the still-missing-box of from the 80s and early 90s I have managed to 'archive' all of my ticket stubs. Except this one. Damn.

Memory, as faulty as it is, will have to do. This was a fine concert. I was blown away by last year's We'll Never Turn Back album, but what would Mavis be like live? In the end, the style was close to that of the album but the selection of songs was much broader.

Mavis had a six piece band - guitar, bass and drums plus three backing singers. They stayed closer to the spare, gritty, almost bluesy sound of WNTB rather than a slick or more soulful take. This worked less well for the Staple Singers songs towards the end of the set but for songs from the album like Down in Mississippi or Eyes on The Prize or even some of the covers like Wade in the Water or the Buffalo Springfield cover, it worked just a treat. There was also a great instrumental section were the band were let loose on a medley of tunes including a raucous instrumental of Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues.

However what really made this concert was two things. The first Mavis's voice - deep, throaty and guttural rather than as soulful as in earlier years but still with a soaring range. The second was Mavis herself. In addition to the songs she told stories on the civil rights struggle, of MLK (Why Am I Treated So Bad was his favourite song), of her father and family's fight against injustice that reinforced that Mavis not only sung it she had lived it. Her presence and her stature as a campaigner shone out along side her singing. It was a privilege to be in the company of such a woman. Long may she continue to sing and to campaign.

For What It's Worth
Eyes on The Prize
Down in Mississippi
Wade in the Water
The Weight
Why Am I Treated So Bad?
I'm So Lonely I Could Cry opening bars/instrumental slide guitar blues/Folsom Prison Blues
Marching on Freedom's Highway
Respect Yourself
I'll Take You There
We Shall Not Be Moved
Turn Me Around

Mavis Staples
We'll Never Turn Back [BUY]

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