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Soul Noel, St George’s, 14 Dec.

December 16, 2009

Carols in St Andrew’s Park next week won’t be the same after this! I want all my carols to be gospelized, reggaefied, and generally funked up in future, please.  In the hands of this ensemble, with eight London singers plus two star extras – one of whom was the remarkable South African Sibongile Khumalo – this created a festive set with real musical depth and, well, soul.

There were a few near-cheesy moments, but they were fleeting, and the power and exuberance of the rest was transfixing. The highlights were really Sibongile’s South African numbers. She really is someone beamed down from planet song to bring light into earthbound lives, a star in any company. Power, range, finesse, and huge emotional punch there. The others weren’t half bad, either, and the rhythm section pumped it out behind them to great effect. Robert Mitchell on piano didn’t have a huge lot to do but was granted one lovely, subtle solo spot.

Otherwise, the review of the beginning of this little tour here pretty much covers it. Add the fact that there were no sound problems in Bristol, aside from some early drum dominance, this was the last date, so the band were out to enjoy themselves, and St George’s is a tad more atmospheric than the QEH, and you can take it that this sent everyone home with wide smiles which ought to last through Christmas and beyond.

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