Al Green + Gabrielle @ Birmingham NIA Academy – 28th October 2008


Gabrielle opened tonight’s show to what was initially 60% of the NIA Academy’s capacity. During her set late arrivals continued to pour in, yet this did nothing to deter her performance. A modest supporting band and backing singers who somewhat lacked finesse didn’t make for an unforgettable performance, although Gabrielle herself was on form vocally and genuinally excited to be supporting Ali G!

Not all of the tracks were well received but it wasn’t until hits such as ” Out Of Reach” and ” Dreams” were performed did the audience really warm up. It may have been the effects of the weather or it may just have been me, yet Gabrielle’s set seemed little more than an average warm up act.

gabrielleRev Al Green

The Legend that is Al Green took to the stage in the second half of tonight’s performance to the delight of his fans, offering out his trademark long-stemmed red roses to his adoring fans.

The seasoned entertainer began his set of superb music and entertainment for all present – the snow, rain and freezing temperatures both outside and in were soon forgotten as Al Green’s charisma and energy warmed the venue. He and his 20-strong band gave a powerhouse performance, with classic hits such as “I Cant Stop”, “Lets Stay Together” and “How Do You Mend A Broken Heart” performed with soulful yet powerful vocals. The entire set was effortless and included chuckles and cheeky ad-libs from the Reverend of Soul.

Rev Al Green Rev Al Green

The songs from “Lay It Down”, Al’s critically acclaimed 2008 album, merged into the set including “Stay With Me”, while in between all this Al sang songs from his own heroes like The Temptations’ “My Girl”, Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home” which got the audience on their feet.

At 62 the man from Memphis can still command amazing vocals and certainly reach the high notes and he showed us that he has got what it takes to span a career from 1971 to the present day, as he said,” I’ve been singing these songs for 32 years, or trying to!”.

Al Green is timeless, genuine and as gifted as ever. I felt privileged to see him perform this evening and intend to take time to indulge a little more in a genre of music I for one seem all too often to neglect with an effort to appreciate its importance and influence on the music today.

Review – Dave Edwards
Photos – John Mason

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