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Swing Out Sister in Islington

Swing Out Sister 3

Since they made one of my favourite albums of the year so far, I was keen to see Swing Out Sister at Islington Assembly Hall last night. It turned out to be just what I needed: an hour combining the exhilarating grooves of soul music with the warmth of something home-spun and hand-finished, made by enthusiasts.

I’d expected to hear a higher proportion of songs from the new album, Almost Persuaded, but this was more of a greatest-hits night, which certainly suited the capacity crowd. It suited me, too, when they fired up their lovely version of Barbara Acklin’s “Am I the Same Girl”, which could have gone on all night. The arrangement of “Stoned Soul Picnic” was quite beautifully conceived and executed, Corinne Drewery sharing the lead vocals with Gina Michele in a rare example of a Laura Nyro cover not paling by comparison with the composer’s original.

There was a lot to enjoy, notably the guitarist Tim Cansfield’s discreet Philly-style octave riffs and fills, the presence of the wonderful Jody Linscott on congas, tambourine and other percussion (if I were ever putting together a soul band, Jody would be my first call), and the way Andy Connell integrates quotes from Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder into the backgrounds. When they finished off with “Breakout”, most of the audience — particularly the women – sang along with what had clearly been a personal dancefloor anthem.

The merchandise stall was selling an instrumental-only remix of Almost Persuaded, an album-length exclusive for the people who attended the gig. It’s a great companion piece to the original album. I don’t know how you’d get your hands on a copy, but it’s certainly worth a try.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. There is a Japanese release of Almost Persuaded in instrumental form listed on Discogs: I wonder if that is what they were giving out? Mind you, Swing Out Sister without Corinne’s vocals – would that not be deficient?

    November 14, 2018
  2. Paul James #

    The sound balance was very poor with the bass guitar often drowning out the keyboards and the lead guitar creating what can only be described as thumping mess, a bit like a 70s school prom. Their music is very subtle with beautiful chord changes and it deserved a better sound mix than it got last night.

    November 14, 2018
    • That’s true, Paul. But I’ve been hearing a lot of gigs with perfect sound lately and I think I enjoyed the “70s school prom” production values, as you put it. There’s no excuse, of course, particularly at £30 a ticket, but I enjoyed the roughness. It was a bit like being across the road at the Hope & Anchor 40 years ago listening to Kokomo — although their sound was usually better than that. There were times when I wanted a concert sound, but I settled for a different vibe and came away quite happy.

      November 14, 2018
      • GuitarSlinger #

        You ‘ enjoyed ‘ the roughness ? Seriously ? Especially when you consider the fact that with the likes of the ‘ Dead’s ‘ Wall of Sound , Yes’s quad system , Denver CO’s Ebbets Field and Rainbow Music Hall’s incredible Klipsch systems etc- et al – back in the 70’s crappy school prom sound was totally unacceptable … even at most US High Schools proms

        Suffice it to say crap is crap and deserves to be labeled as such . And from the looks of others reviews I’ve been reading … the sound of this show was abject crap verging on the abysmal . Shame on them or at the very least on the venue or the sound company they contracted !

        As for you good sir . Let us pursue high standards and quality as we age rather than look back nostalgically at a past we barely tolerated back in the day . Especially in this present Trumified Brexited present we’re living in where standards , quality and truth are rapidly losing all meaning

        Rock On – Write On – Remain Calm ( despite all the bs ) but do maintain high standards as you Carry On

        gtrslngr 😎

        November 16, 2018

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