REVIEW: The O’Jays @ Indig02
Review: The O’Jays @ O2 Indigo London (on 19.09.14)
The O’Jays last played in the UK about 20 years ago so to be given the opportunity to see these living legends live was inspiring. The support DJ, James Anthony, played popular soul classics like The Jones Girls – ‘Nights Over Egypt’. The venue was about three quarters full on this Thursday night performance. There was plenty of boogie and soul from artists like Teddy Pendergrass – ‘You Can’t Hide From Yourself’, Teena Marie, The Fatback Band – ‘Do The Bus Stop’; The Gap Band – ‘Outstanding’; Roy Ayers – ‘Love Will Bring Us Back Together. This lukewarm crowd weren’t feeling the boogie of the DJ’s sounds which included some Philly Soul from Lou Rawls – ‘Lady Love’.
The O’Jays consists of three members from USA, Eddie Levert, Walter Williams Snr & Eric Nolan Grant. They have a unique harmonised rhythm & blues sound that has survived over 50 years. Some of the band members may have changed over time but the sound hasn’t. This legendary band was introduced on stage by the band & Master of Ceremonies into the track ‘Darling Darling Baby’ that lead into ‘Unity’. We got to watch some classic synchronised moves & listen to perfected harmonies. Eddie Levert spoke to the crowd between lyrics and had us clapping our hands to their beat. Walter Williams lead the song ‘Loving You’ & Eddie Levert’s raspy baritone voice hit some tenor bass notes whilst Eric Grant hit the high notes. Once again, Walter lead the track ‘Forever Mine’ & finished the song with a beautiful range of notes that echoed through the room for about 10 minutes. This track turned into a blues gospel arrangement with an organ playing in the background and a trio barbershop harmony to end the track. Eddie Levert spoke to the ladies in the crowd saying “I wanna love you till your hair gets wet”, “I wanna love you so you don’t forget” and sang ‘Let Me Make Love to You Baby’. They slowed down the groove for ‘We Cry Together’ and the crowd sang the chorus together. Eddie Levert’s big voice woke us all up. It was a very dramatic performance that moved the crowd. The tempo picked up with ‘I Love Music’.
Eric sang a solo ballad and told us that he’s released a solo album. The backing singers harmonised with him whilst Eddie and Walter sat & listened. Eric gave respect to them and told us he’s been singing in The O’Jays for 20 years. Walter sang a short ballad called ‘Brandy’ and explained that the track got loads of radio play when it was released until everyone realised it was about his lost puppy! Walter told us Eddie & he met at the young age of 7 or 8 years old. Eddie was always singing from a young age. They were told by an elder to practise so that one day they could earn a lot of money using such skills. This appealed to Walter so they would sing on the way to the park, the shops, to & from school every day, which manifested into The O’Jays.
Eddie introduced the band members & started with the backing singers. Jimmy Williams on bass, Freddie Holliday on drums, Perry Daltrey on guitar, Tony Nicholls & Arthur Dennis Williams on keyboards.
Eddie requested a woman from the crowd so that he could sing ‘Family Reunion’ to her. It was great to see her enjoy every moment. The O’Jays harmonised into ‘Love Train’, gave us some boogie ‘You Used to Be My Girl’ & funk with ‘For the Love Of’ (the final track). The group left the stage to a rapturous applause, the band continued the funk and The O’Jays came back onto the stage to give more thanks for showing them love and appreciation. In 2005, The O’Jays were finally inducted into the US Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, a fitting tribute to such an iconic band. And they don’t half know how to still put on a show after all these years!
By Saskia King (@misoul_saskia)