Concert Review: Al Green and Candi Staton in Manchester, England

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    al greenAl Green stormed into the MEN Arena, Manchester for the latest leg of his UK tour to the kind of rapturous reception befitting the reputation the north west of England has for being a hot bed of classic soul.  The region's soul brothers and sisters were out in force for a show that opened with the sensational Candi Staton who proved, much like good wine, that time had done nothing to dull her magic or dim her undoubted star quality.  With an extensive discogr
    al greenaphy that reaches back as far as 1969, and which includes its fair share of gospel records, she had much to entice her audience and did just that with staples from way back that included her 1971 smash ‘Stand By Your Man' and the 1977 ‘Nights On Broadway'.  Bringing it back to now she turned it down for the message laden title track from her 2006 CD ‘His Hands' before whipping the crowd into a frenzy with her 1976 anthem ‘Young Hearts Run Free'.  Staton ensured the arena remained completely supercharged by closing her set with the stunning ‘You Got The Love'.  This track started out on Staton's 1990 gospel album ‘Stand Up And Be A Witness' only to become a disco blockbuster courtesy of her collaboration with The Source.  It gave her tight well drilled band, which included two of her sons plus former Style Council stalwart Mick Talbot on keys, the chance to really excel and guaranteed that the audience were totally ready for the Reverend Green.

    From the second that Al Green stepped on stage to a funky fanfare from his top notch band it was obvious that star quality is not a phenomenon impacted by the passing of time.  Often described as the first great soul singer of the '70s, and arguably the last great Southern soul singer, he has a pedigree and a back catalogue that cannot be challenged.  Throughout his show he reinforced this every step of the way and with a performance that was replete with virtuosity and charisma delivered exactly what his audience wanted.  As they all sang along, and old men who should have known better unashamedly danced, he impeccably delivered a sequence of his best loved hits all mixed up with samples of his more recent work.  Green also found time to preach a sermon or two with messages of love thigh neighbor and the evil of drugs before bringing the house down with a funky and extended version of his 1972 hit ‘Love And Happiness.'  It signaled the end of the show and with the band still playing a full ten minutes after Green had left the stage sent his fans home grooving, happy and understanding that the best soul music really is timeless.

    Denis Poole