George Benson has been in town. Lucky me - I grabbed a couple of tickets the moment I heard about the tour via Jazz FM. He was playing on of the biggest gigs in town - the Royal Albert Hall, capable of seating 5,500 people. It also has that enormous pipe organ, known as ‘The Voice of Jupiter’, but no one expected George to use that.
Though our tickets were more or less in the gods - perched waaay up high - Misha and I enjoyed ourselves, not leaping too hastily from our seats as did some other enthusiasts, but swaying around and singing along a bit and taking bad iPhone pictures. A wonderful evening. Made a change from opera.
|I told you we were waaaay up high.|
Ah, Mr Benson. I think I can do no better than to quote in full the review of this night at the Albert Hall that he has chosen to post on his website (partly because it is so amusing):
Backed by a meaty, well-drilled group, Benson delivers a judicious mixture of jazz standards and the big-selling lurve-songs his fans demand.
It takes a true star to fill the Royal Albert Hall on a European Cup semi-final night, something George Benson achieved with customary aplomb. True, the majority of his fans are female and of certain ages but most of their menfolk were also present.
By the close everybody was out of their seats and swaying to the Benson beat with an upstanding, body-popping, hand-clapping abandon that would have astonished their osteopaths.
Earlier, American trumpeter Christian Scott had smartly opened the show with a Dizzy Gillespie tip-tilted trumpet and a terrific drummer named Jamire Willliams in his youthful quartet. They deserved more than their 45 minutes in the spotlight.
George himself appeared a little thicker around the waist than usual but gave a thoroughly compelling performance, singing and simultaneously playing guitar as soulfully and creatively as only he can.
His current album, Guitar Man, is supposed to signal a return to the jazz fold but in large venues like this, commercial factors also apply.
Backed by a meaty, well-drilled group featuring two keyboards, bass, rhythm guitar and drums, Benson paced the evening cleverly, delivering a judicious mixture of jazz standards and the big-selling lurve-songs his fans demand.
Moody’s Mood for Love, Breezin’, Mambo Inn and This Masquerade — a particularly powerful version — were thus interleaved with Turn Your Love Around, In Your Eyes, Never Give Up on a Good Thing and other soul hits, climaxing inevitably with Gimme the Night.
At this point a nearby hen-party of five mature ladies with complicated hairdos began jiving in line abreast. There’ll be some sore ankles in Epping this evening.
George did indeed look a little stockier than his sexy promo shots, and they ran out of his new CD at the merchandise stand. But he gave us two solid hours of music, and you should have seen the hot pink jacket he changed into for the second half. Gimme the night...
Whenever dark has fallenyou know the spirit of the partystarts to come alive.Until the day is dawningyou can throw out all your bluesand hit the city lights.'Cause there's music in the airand lots of loving everywhereso gimme the night. Gimme the night.You need the evening action,a place to dine, a glass of wine,a little late romance.It's a chain reaction.You'll see the people of the worldcoming out to dance.'Cause there's music in the airand lots of loving everywhereso gimme the night. Gimme the night
Can’t argue with that, George.
The nice image of George is from http://georgebenson.com/gallery/