London Shepherd's Bush Empire

The climax is even more ignominious, as [B]Angie[/B] decides tonight won't be complete unless we meet her three-year-old son...

"My salt and pepper shakers are loaded with funk", smirks the incredibly hirsute, Chaka Khan-resembling Angie Stone. "This is our soul music, our love music, our baby-making music," she then purrs saucily. No further proof is needed: she's soul music's absolute Queen Of Smouldering Banter and this fact alone is enough to have tonight's sell-out crowd hanging on to her every well-chosen word. Now, let's try the music...



Angie Stone has previously made music with D'Angelo (as well making one of her two children with him), and indeed, she often seems like his female counterpart. She moves in an orbit where the mysterious, the richly textured and the honey-smooth rule. Spirituality? You bet, more of it than a whole week in mass as she brings on unashamedly gentle songs like 'Life Story' and her admirably erratic studio collusion with D'Angelo himself, 'Everyday'.



So hers is truly an undefiled, halcyon-era soul thing, and thus, in many respects, truly an old thing. With young guns like Kelis screaming, hollering and making Technicolor waves, Angie, who's been plugging away in this business since starting out with Sugarhill-signed female rap outfit The Sequence, can't help but seem a vintage offering. It's no wonder she sounds so at ease covering Marvin Gaye's rapturously sublime 'Trouble Man', or why her version of Joyce Sims' shiver-inducing 'Come Into My Life' rolls out so perfectly.



Perhaps age is also to blame for onstage behaviour that really should have been put out to graze by now. The protracted introduction to all eight members of her band we can just about cope with, but when we get a crushingly naff guitar solo from someone who's a dead ringer for Gianluca Vialli, really, we're on the verge of wedging fag ends in our ears.



The climax is even more ignominious, as Angie decides tonight won't be complete unless we meet her three-year-old son. Consequently, he's wheeled out to mumble unenthusiastically through a rap which, no surprise, doesn't ideally match the soul gravitas displayed earlier.



Meaning Angie's shakers weren't quite as loaded as they had at first seemed.

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