Rated 5 out of
Puts the TV plastic singers in their place!
ELKIE BROOKS ST GEORGE’S HALL, BRADFORD SATURDAY 19 OCTOBER 2019
What a good evening it was at Bradford’s lovely St Georges Hall when Elkie Brooks and her five-piece rocked up. It was two hours of a big dose of class, driven by a supreme voice, backed by faultless musicianship and roared on by a massively enthusiastic full house.
Split into two sets, and displaying considerable pazazz from the word go, the lady herself never stopped moving from the first minute, skimming round like a newborn gadfly, call-and-responding throughout and beaming as though she’d just had good news from the postcode lottery. Never pausing save for a bit of cheery stage chat in that lovely Lanc accent, always “up” for a wave and a thumbs-up to various members of the audience, the songs simply flew by – the highlight of the first segment, for me, the elegant “Lilac Wine” and a simply thunderous “Nights in White Satin” provoking the first of several standing tributes.
After the interval, the focus and momentum shifted to full-on blues rock with more than a nod and a wink to the Elkie of earlier days fronting the excellent Vinegar Joe (although Robert Palmer might have had a different take on that), the band taking the opportunity to stretch itself too and really giving it the full wax. Right in the middle of the sequence came a frankly raucous rendition of “Pearl”, which caused a long pause after the very first line while the crowd rose en masse in appreciation of a marvellous talent.
You see, it’s the power of the voice. It’s quite astonishing how after five decades, the animal growl is all there and more, able to shift in a second from full-throttle soul and blues to a soporiphic cadence, bringing the mood down or up as the song evolves. And the variety of the set just served to showcase all its facets – be it a driving power ballad, an out-and-out rocker, or the touching stately closer of “We’ve Got Tonight”, the perfect ending to pretty much the complete evening – it was just one of those nights.
It was an extraordinary vocal tour de force delivered with remarkable chutzpah and, had I shut my eyes and opened them to find Gladys, Shirley, Tina and – yes – Aretha on stage instead of a tiny Mancunian, it really wouldn’t have sounded any better. It honestly wouldn’t.
Date published: 2019-10-21