No wonder his record company, Island, likes him so much. The potential equation whereby tuneful funk in a Jamiroquai vein is crossed with the American appeal of guitar rock brings dollar signs to the eyes. The club was sold out, Paul Weller was at the bar and there was a distinctive apres-Brits feel. Opening with the beautiful "Whoever", the quintet stroked out the subtle street-soul rhythms in a quietly masterful manner. It's a song so good that it makes the blue-eyed soul comparisons come true, but subsequent numbers proved that Taylor is nobody's clone. An insight into the enigma of Taylor comes from a chance encounter with one of the Barnet posse on the guest-list. Che ("Yeah, really, my dad was a communist") says that Lewis, together with his brother Matthew, who plays bass in the band, has been making music in his bedroom since he was a kid. "His mum wanted to put him on Opportunity Knocks when he was eight, but he wouldn't do it. He was into Deep Purple before all this soul bollocks." The intriguing opposites of sanctified soul and base metal, Memphis and Middlesex, are inscribed deeply into the music. When Taylor calls out an aside of "Won't you talk to me baby?", the Barnet posse answers with a response of "Oi, oi, oi, oi, oi", baffling the soul buffs in the audience. Lewis Taylor is a great find, but he's his own man, and what exactly has been found remains to be seen.
At Ronnie Scott's, Frith St, Soho, Sun, 16 and 23 March
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