‘Classic shows’ is a personal retrospective of gigs our writers have been to over the years. Today we look back the night Lyn Collins stormed The Jazz Cafe……
It’s actually quite remarkable when you finally check the dates on certain shows you’ve seen in the past. Great live music sticks with you, walling off its own small part of your memory that remains vivid and potent. It is a well-worn cliche, but cast your mind back and you really can almost hear the music and feel the heat of the crowd. The one thing that rarely translates though is the concept of how long ago the show was. It always seems like it was just yesterday.
So I must confess I was surprised when doing the reading for this piece that the show in question was all the way back in 2005. Around that time I was just starting to really get into soul music, having spent brief but remarkable time in New York. I’d come back invigorated and hungry for as much live soul music as I could find and this show seemed a fine place to start.
I headed down on my lonesome as is often the case with these kinds of shows. When you dedicate yourself to a genre of music, schedules always take priority over who may be available to tag along and more often than not, live music aficionados find themselves flying solo. In some ways I must confess I prefer it….the focus on the music is always a little sharper.
For those unfamiliar with the late Lyn Collins, she spent time in the 70s touring with the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown before breaking out into her own solo career. Her most commercially successful track “Think (about it)” is a brash, sassy soul cut that opens with an epic, gospel tinged call-to-arms….before dropping into a classic James Brown groove. It got to 9 in the American R&B charts in 1972 and even enjoyed a second lease of life in the 80’s as parts of the track were widely sampled by hip-hop artists.
The show itself was a total sell out and was part of Lyn’s first ever European tour. The crowd were packed in around the Jazz Cafe’s unique, ultra-wide stage as we waited for for the main act to arrive. Before that though, Lyn had a support artist….and one that almost completely stole the show.
Lyn’s support act was another of the JB’s alumni, the superb Martha High. I’m sure the more educated soulsters in the room had a fairly good idea of what was coming but for me, a total soul noobie, I was blown away.
The sheer power that came from her voice was remarkable and I can still hear the gravel of her high notes in her head even now.
Check out this footage of her playing with The JB’s from a few years back.
After Martha had got everyone going, Lyn herself took to the stage and wow did she own it. Opening with the funk classic “Rock Me Again and Again” she stormed out with a stage presence the likes of which I hadn’t seen from an artist before. Big, brash, bold and oh my god, so funky. I must confess that beyond the opener and her flawless rendition of “Think” I knew very few of the other songs in the set list, but as you can imagine from someone who had played so long with James Brown, there was hardly a drop in tempo all night. It was a truly amazing show.
So I guess what I’m trying to say with these assorted musings is…get out there and go see some live music. Even if you’ve no one to go with…even if you’re not sure of the artists back catalogue or who the support act might be. The artists I saw in New York and Lyn’s show set me on a 10 year journey into soul music…and today you’ll still find me taking a punt on an artist, sitting at the back of the room with a beer in my hand and a smile on my face.
Live music depends and thrives on your support. If you give it…you’ll be richly rewarded. If you ever want a few tips on who to go and see, please do drop us a line at our contact page.
And to round this off…..here’s a clip of Lyn in her prime.
Keep it soul!