Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1093

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Roy Ayers: Union Chapel, Islington, London 12/4/19

Roy Ayers: Union Chapel, Islington, London 12/4/19 @bluesandsoul.com
Roy Ayers: Union Chapel, Islington, London 12/4/19 @bluesandsoul.com Roy Ayers: Union Chapel, Islington, London 12/4/19 @bluesandsoul.com Roy Ayers: Union Chapel, Islington, London 12/4/19 @bluesandsoul.com Roy Ayers: Union Chapel, Islington, London 12/4/19 @bluesandsoul.com Roy Ayers: Union Chapel, Islington, London 12/4/19 @bluesandsoul.com Roy Ayers: Union Chapel, Islington, London 12/4/19 @bluesandsoul.com Roy Ayers: Union Chapel, Islington, London 12/4/19 @bluesandsoul.com Roy Ayers: Union Chapel, Islington, London 12/4/19 @bluesandsoul.com Roy Ayers: Union Chapel, Islington, London 12/4/19 @bluesandsoul.com

The Godfather of Neo-Soul may be 78 now, but he's showing no sign of slowing down.

Roy Ayers is no stranger to the London stage, having completed a series of shows at the Jazz Cafe, the Barbican Centre, Kentish Town Forum and Subterania - among others - in the last three years alone.

His performance at the Union Chapel, the first of two nights at the stunning gothic church in Islington, is the fourth time I've been lucky to see him.

While fellow "Godfather" James Brown may have insisted on being the centre of attention to the end, Ayers is far more laid back in the spotlight. In fact, it's his four-piece band that does most of the heavy lifting, with the veteran jazz, soul and funk icon spending large chunks of the set seated, while nodding appreciatively.

As a bandleader with more than 50 years experience, there's no doubting he recognises musical prowess, and musical pedigree of the musicians onstage was never in doubt. The set started with "Searching", and was fast followed by a rousing "Everybody Loves The Sunshine" and "Red, Black and Green".

As anyone who has visited the Union Chapel will know, the acoustics in there are fantastic, and this provided the perfect springboard for an accomplished act. Ayers himself may not be the most high-energy of performers these days, but when he is at the microphone his years of experience shine through. At times his shows take on the semblance of a live jam - which is no bad thing - and his sense of timing remains impeccable.

The mixed-age crowd were clearly enjoying themselves in the beautiful venue, and "Don't Stop The Feeling" still sounds fresh 40 years after its release.

On present form, expect to see him again very soon.

PHOTOS: DAVE BURKE
Words Dave Burke

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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