Omar: London Jazz Cafe

Perenially underappreciated Britsoul hero Omar proves ripe for rediscovery...

With the entire clientele of All Bar One seemingly descending upon the Jazz Cafe, the UK’s original soul son struts onto stage ready to claim back his crown, should anybody have forgotten the riches Omar graced his subjects with during the early to mid ’90s. Just one problem now: the missing years have seen Omar’s hair grow so incredibly tall any crown would surely topple off.

Musically, a collage of old and new ensues with current album tracks being shown off against the recognisable punter pleasers to deter wandering minds. Of the modern offerings: ‘To The Top’ complete with majestic flute is a great set opener. Recent single ‘Something Real’ and the cover of William Bell’s ‘Be Thankful For What You’ve Got’ move a fairly subdued crowd.

Classic interludes bring the incredible ‘Music’ which seems to go on for ever and somehow finish off as another slab of street soul, ‘Outside’, which is effective in bringing performer and audience closer together. However the party piece is always going to be ‘There’s Nothing Like This’ which creates such a collective sway and sing-along, it suggests a fair quantity have paid the admission price specifically for this moment. But another early masterpiece ‘Little Boy’ is the real emotion stirrer for those in the know.

It’s hard to imagine Omar not feeling slightly unappreciated. A crowd that will almost certainly roar approval for the latest US saviour of soul, expects great things from the home-grown talent standing before them, and in doing so takes for granted spot-on vocal delivery and an incredibly tight band.

As a result, no frenzy is whipped up, and day two of a five night sell out run comes and goes. There’s no doubt Omar will be back next time, time and again, extolling his greatness. On the evidence of tonight’s performance, he should demand it.

Sam Faulkner