Candi Staton – Nottingham Rescue Rooms, Monday April 26.
While other soul stars of her generation might opt for the safety of the revival package tour, trotting out twenty minutes of hits to the nostalgia brigade, Candi Staton has chosen to walk the high road. Returning to the secular stage after two decades spent mainly on the gospel circuit, she concluded her UK tour at the Rescue Rooms last night, backed by a fine and funky eight-piece British band called Push (featuring Mick Talbot, former keyboardist with The Style Council).
Although the show was downsized from Rock City, the smaller venue worked in everybody’s favour. Dancers shook their stuff down the front, while veteran soul buffs beamed from the sidelines. This was a warm, earthy, up close and personal show, and an opportunity for the players to draw from a rich tradition of classic styles – from Southern Soul (I’d Rather Be An Old Man’s Sweetheart) to Northern Soul (Now You Got The Upper Hand), via blues, gospel, country, disco and garage house.
The big hits – Nights On Broadway, Young Hearts Run Free, Suspicious Minds – all got an airing, along with both of Candi’s Grammy-nominated recordings: Stand By Your Man (which stayed just the right side of hokey), and a spine-tingling cover of Elvis Presley’s In The Ghetto.
The main set finished with a triumphant reclaiming of Candi’s biggest hit, You Got The Love – a song which started out as the soundtrack for a diet video, before being remixed and covered many times over, most recently by Florence and the Machine. This was soul music as it should be heard: immaculately performed, sung with love and understanding, and lifting the spirits of a small, sweaty, happy room.