R&B veteran Bobby Womack brought a classic soul revue to Auckland’s Civic Theatre. With a set list and a red suit rooted firmly in the 1970s, Womack and his excellent band played two hours of vintage rhythm and blues.
With rumours circulating about the state of Bobby Womack’s health, there was always an air of uncertainty over the quality of this show. Could the 69-year-old singer still deliver the goods? A few bars into the opening song, 1972’s Across 110th Street, left no question that Womack was still in fine form.
It didn’t hurt that he was backed by a fantastic band. For the record they were: Nate LaPointe (guitar), Rustee Allen (bass), Bubba Bryant (drums), Tony Flores (Percussion), James Thompson (sax), Ermuelito Navarro (trombone) Michael Davis & Brian Mantz (trumpet), Alex Marlowe & Hense Powell (keyboards) and Alltrinna Grayson, Lisa K. Coulter and GinaRe Womack (backing vocals).
Alex Marlowe did a beautiful job recreating the sweeping string arrangements on his keyboard, while Alltrinna Grayson got a chance to show off her stuff early in the show during Harry Hippie.
Womack kept the hits coming fast…almost too fast at the beginning as tunes like Daylight and That’s The Way I Feel About Cha seemed to go by in a blur. But the pace slowed a bit for The Bravest Man In The Universe.
I was interested to hear how songs of the new album would stand up alongside Womack’s earlier material, but with the help of the band, both The Bravest Man and Please Forgive My Heart sounded right at home with the older songs.
Womack himself seemed to be in good spirits. During The Bravest Man his red jacket came off and he allowed the band to stretch out giving each horn player a chance to solo.
Looking For A Love, a song that dates back to the early 60s, had everyone on their feet at Womack’s encouragement.
Bass player Rustee Allen let go with a few pops on his instrument during a funky Woman’s Gotta Have It.
Lisa Coulter got her chance to shine, duetting with Bobby on You’re Welcome, Stop On By, a Womack tune sung by Chaka Khan back in the day. GinaRe Womack, Bobby’s daughter, traded verses with her dad on Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come, one of the evening’s many highlights.
In addition to Cooke, there were tributes to other iconic soul singers…Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On got a brief play as did Wilson Pickett’s Land Of 1000 Dances.
The rarest tribute came at the very end of the show. For the third song of the encore, Bobby Womack reached back to 1962 and McKinley Mitchell’s The Town I Live In. The Chicago singer’s early hit made an impact on the young Bobby Womack and he closed the evening with a heartfelt version of the tune.
From what I heard tonight, it sounds like Bobby Womack will be making music for a quite a number of years to come. There aren’t many like him left.
Click on any image to view a photo gallery of concert shot taken by Veronica McLaughlin:
Bobby Womack set list:
- Across 110th Street
- Nobody Wants You When You’re Down And Out
- Harry Hippie
- I Wish He Didn’t Trust Me So Much
- That’s The Way I Feel About Cha
- The Bravest Man In The Universe
- Lookin’ For A Love
- If You Think You’re Lonely Now
- Woman’s Gotta Have It
- You’re Welcome, Stop On By
- A Change Is Gonna Come
- Please Forgive My Heart
- Deep River
- Jesus Be A Fence Around Me
- (No Matter How High I Get) I’ll Still Be Looking Up To You
- I Can Understand It
- I’m Through Trying To Prove My Love To You
- Love Has Finally Come A Last
- The Town I Live In
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