London N1 Scala

Diminutive in stature, [B]Anderson[/B] is large in, y'know, soul baby; and it's not the ersatz so-whoa-whoa-ull of your [B]Whitney[/B]'s'n'[B]Mariah[/B]'s, this is the real deal...

Little ever changes when it comes to these die-hard, tie-dyed soul freaks. [a]Brand New Heavies[/a]’ bassist Andrew Levy and guitarist [a]Simon[/a] ‘the funk John NoakesBartholomew still look like they’re auditioning for Austin Powers, drummer Jan Kincaid still beats out the same James Brown rhythm all night, the horn section’s still ‘tight’.

But there is one difference tonight, and in this rarefied rare groove province, it’s a major one. The Heavies have dispensed with the terminally annoying Siedah Garrett, and replaced her with ex-Young Disciple Carleen Anderson. Diminutive in stature, Anderson is large in, y’know, soul baby; and it’s not the ersatz so-whoa-whoa-ull of your Whitney‘s’n’Mariah‘s, this is the real deal.

She brings a much-needed raw feeling to old hits like the one from that BBC lifestyle programme and ‘Never Stop’. She isn’t such a presence, though, that she’s forced the band into a radical new drill’n’bass direction. While forthcoming single ‘Saturday Night’ rides on clipped bass, it nonetheless wallows in that old soul clichi of how great Saturday night is (when we all know there’s never anything on telly then).

The crowd whoop. Carleen beams. Sales of the new Earth, Wind And Fire compilation go through the roof.

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