Rollin' with it
POP: Steve Winwood; Hanover Grand, London
Saturday 03 May 1997
Not necessarily tonight, though, because what's going on is quite cool. There's an odd sense of the gravity-defying about little Stevie. At its best, his music is grittily uplifting, still all about the full-throttle sweat of R&B/psychedelia he pioneered (this is a man who can meld uncannily with a Hammond organ); and, though the chap's nearly 50, he still retains the quirky, slightly fey beauty of yesteryear. Some feat, since this is a rock 'n' roll baby who played big-band and Dixieland jazz at the age of eight, alongside his clarinettist dad, in the Ron Atkinson Band. By 12, on stage with his unfortunately nicknamed sibling, Muff, he was singing like Ray Charles on helium. At 16, he scored Staxy hits with the Spencer Davis Group; in his twenties, doped out of his mind, he was mixing prog-rock and psychedelia in Traffic (remember "Hole In My Shoe", all about a big albatross?). When he finally found a solo career, he made radio-friendly AOR credible with "Valerie" and "Higher Love", white-soul nonpareil.
The new album, Junction Seven, looks good on paper, with contributions from Narada Michael Walden, Jim Capaldi, Nile Rodgers, Lenny Kravitz and Des'ree. On CD, to be honest, it's a disappointment - slightly bland variations on 1986's Back in the High Life. In his natural habitat, however, a cramped and smoky club, Winwood made it move. The sound was flattened by the Hanover's low ceiling, the band - all at least half his age - were technically proficient, but multi-instrumentalist Winwood fired the set. He kicked off with "I'm a Man", soaked in brass and Hammond B3, his voice - half Marvin Gaye, half Roland Gift - scratching against the police siren wails of two cat- like Diana Rosses.
New tracks were buzzed up with salsa, Philly and jazz-funk, and sounded pretty much as good as what you'd come hoping to hear: the arch romance of "While You See a Chance", the edgy R&B of "Keep On Runnin'" and "Gimme Some Lovin'". He must've played this last song a time or two, but its hypnotic, insidious riff still makes him contort his face in an orgasmic, lip-biting rictus. I don't think he was the only one.
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Saneie Masilela, 9, marries Helen Shabangu, 53 years his senior, for the second time
- 2 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 3 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 4 Man takes most pointless Uber cab ride of all time
- 5 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley star in trailer for new Alan Turing film The Imitation Game
It looks like Krusty the Clown is the major Simpsons character death
Russell T Davies wants your 'sexcapades' for new web series Tofu about modern sex culture
Star Wars 7: Plot details 'leak', with sequel's opening sequence and premise revealed
Panic! At The Disco donate $1000 to gay rights group after Westboro Baptist Church picket
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains