Alex Wong, Getty Images WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama said he'd…
- Posted on Jul 1st 2010 12:45PM by Mark Wigmore
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Toussaint rattled through his long list of hits that have inspired covers from a laundry list of artists including Bonnie Raitt, Jerry Garcia, the Who, Otis Redding, the Rolling Stones and Glen Campbell's hit version of 'Southern Nights.' Toussaint's group backed up his concert grand piano playing a "fit for road consumption' version of New Orleans swing. A song like 'Get Out of My Life Woman' kept time with a tighter-knit rhythm than the typical creep of N'awlins sloshy swagger.
The popular opening act held Staples to a 10PM start time, but the Canada Day eve audience wasn't going anywhere. At 70, Staples was not the image of agility when taking the stage, but her fierce spirit and the embracing of her deeper vocal range helped to bring a little of the African-American church choir to the Toronto stage. Beginning her career in the 1950s singing Gospel songs with her musical family, father Pops Staples and her three siblings, the Staples Singers became hitmakers in the name of God. Pops' involvement with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped the act reach a larger audience with their American civil rights movement spirituals.
Opening with Buffalo Springfield's 'For What's It's Worth,' the protest movement track didn't sound too out of place given Toronto's recent bout of G20 demonstrations. Traditional numbers like 'Too Close to Heaven' and 'Wade in the Water' found new life with her talented band who found low grooves and heavy blues to spice up the context.
There is no doubt that Mavis Staples runs a well-oiled and routined show. From her measured storytelling of the days of Dr. King, to her sermons the perfectly interweave into a rendition 'Let My Little Light Shine,' she is not in the habit of mixing it up. The inclusion of the Band's 'The Weight,' a song that catapulted her to fame when she performed it in the group's concert film 'The Last Waltz,' was wonderful, but one got the feeling the back-up singers would like to "put the load" somewhere else.
Staples is an absolute pro with what she brings to the table. Later this year, her 13th studio album, 'You Are Not Alone,' will feature collaborator Jeff Tweedy. Her current tour runs deep into the fall, and it would be a shame to miss this night of soulful Gospel that is tattooed with historical significance.