A songbird strayed into our tent over the weekend. He stayed for a magical 90 minutes and flew off when the rain stopped, leaving us awestruck with wonder.
The Marquee was hopping. I’ve never seen it so packed — not an empty seat and the dance floor heaving. Those lucky enough to have Simply Red tickets for the 3Arena show in Dublin in November are in for a real treat.
Among the world’s tightest bands, they produced what may well have been the best sound ever witnessed in this venue. And there have been some stars pass through here.
Mick Hucknall’s vocal range is incredible: Sweet at the top, thunderous at the bottom, and so powerful that when he’s at full tilt he holds the microphone at waist level with no audible dip in volume.
That may be a gimmick, but it’s one that really works. It was all that anyone could talk about after the gig. Immense is too small a word.
Does any living star in popular music have a better voice than Mick Hucknall? His incredible Saturday night Live At The Marquee show certainly put in perspective the considerable vocal talents of Andrea Corr and Gavin James, the headliners on Thursday and Friday.
Simply Red in Cork#in heaven pic.twitter.com/ae1zJr1iGp— Dr Siobhán O' Sullivan (@siobhanos) June 11, 2016
And he’s Irish. “You’re making me proud to have an Irish grandad, from just a bit up the road in Banagher, Co Offaly,” he said of his maternal grandfather, a Taylor from a bit up the road.
Lineage also had a part to play in this remarkable show. The king of white soul has always paid homage to his R&B forefathers and foremothers. On a night in which he played every hit a fan could ask for, he also squeezed in covers of the Gregory Isaacs classic ‘Night Nurse’, Barry White’s ‘It’s Only Love’, The Sylistics hit ‘You Make Me Feel Brand New’, and Homer Banks’s ‘Ain’t That a Lot of Love’.
And, of course, he played all his self-penned hits. The dance classics ‘Money’s Too Tight To Mention’, ‘Come To My Aid’, ‘Stars’, ‘Do The Right Thing’, and ‘Something’s Got Me Started’, and the sweet ballads ‘Babies’ and ‘Your Mirror’.
“I wrote this next song when I was 17 years old, back in my father’s house,” says Hucknall, before starting into an excellent solo acoustic version of ‘Holding Back The Years’. Maturity of the song aside, who knew he was such an excellent guitarist?
A personal highlight was ‘Do The Right Thing’, or perhaps Hucknall leaving it to the crowd to sing most of ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’, the closing song at the end of the second encore.
It was also great to see the band exit slowly, each receiving well-earned roars of applause. Ian Kirkham is excellent on keyboard and sax, Steve Lewinson a powerhouse on bass guitar, and Kenji Suzuki one of the most polished guitarists to have visited these parts. A night that will live long in the memory. Simply incredible.
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