THE INDIVIDUAL SOUL IS LOST. So reads the front cover of tonight’s programme.
The copies, neatly scattered along each row of the solid oak pews, are eye-grabbing to say
the least, not just because they’re blood red or decorated with one of Willis Earl Beal’s
trademark doodles, but because the block capital statement vaguely resembles the sort
that might top a deeply political propaganda leaflet. Of course, it sums up the Chicago
artist perfectly; this is a man not content with simply being a gifted vocalist and exhibiting
such for the benefit of his adoring hordes.
Consequently, his strength, composure and authority permeate every aspect of his St
Giles-in-the-Fields Church show this evening, with the wine-supping congregation
hypnotised by the music, the man and th message. Yes, if you didn’t know it before
strolling down the capital’s Tin Pan Alley and entering the small Gothic brick building on
the right, Beal has something to say ¬– a rarity in modern music – and even if his
manifesto is slightly diffused and at times preachy, it’s refreshing nonetheless.
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