Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1097

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Smoove & Turrell: Motorhouse, Sunderland 13/11/20

John Turrell (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com
John Turrell (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Smoove (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Smoove & Turrell: Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Smoove & Turrell: Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Oscar Cassidy (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Lloyd Wright (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com John Turrell (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Mike Porter (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Smoove (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Smoove (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Oscar Cassidy (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Mike Porter (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Smoove (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com John Turrell (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com John Turrell (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Smoove (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Mike Porter (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Lloyd Wright (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Smoove & Turrell: Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Mike Porter (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Smoove & Turrell: Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Mike Porter (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com John Turrell (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Smoove (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Mike Porter (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com John Turrell (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Mike Porter (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Mike Porter (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com Mike Porter (Smoove & Turrell): Motorpoint, Sunderland 13/11/20 @bluesandsoul.com

Recent UK Dance Album Chart-toppers Smoove & Turrell showed just why their new release “Stratos Bleu” has been so well received, as they delivered a first-class show via live stream from the Motorhouse Studios in Sunderland. COVID-19 may have put the mockers on live events for most this year but not even a pandemic was going to stop these North East funk/soul/dance heroes from giving their devoted, be it this time armchair, fans exactly what they want care of their brand of unadulterated groove, mixed to perfection with a deft soul vocal.

Live, there are few frontmen out there today who can go note for note with John Turrell, one of the best soul voices around make no mistake, who can deliver power and gritty subtlety in equally impressive measures. His highly rehearsed fellow band members, lead by inimitable talents on remix champ and bang-on band leader Smoove who, along with very capable beat maker Oscar Cassidy on drums, provided precision percussion which purred along like a freshly tuned Harley, while Turrell revved his authentic soul growl full of angst, loss and emotion at will.

This evening, the “Stratos Bleu” tracks came thick and fast, as the band revelled in showing off their new material in all its finery… But first, crowd-pleasing “I Can’t Give You Up” from the band’s 2009 debut “Antique Soul”, kicked off proceedings with bags of energy and a killer beat. Keeping the throttle at max, 2nd tunes but first from the new album “E.P.” (“Emotional Pleasure”) mixed in perfectly. A quick hello and a few shoutouts, which were also interspersed thought the show, to those watching on the YouTube stream - thanks for mine! - then it was back to “Stratos Bleu” business…

Bassist Neil Harland delivered a standout solo on new S&T anthem “Do It” and excelled again later with some plucking great plucking (you did read right! Lol) on “Without You” accompanied by Turrell’s vocal masterclass, again, taken from the band’s debut album. From the previous new anthem to new sing-a-long “It Ain’t Working”, complete with it’s “Lambeth Walk” OI’s and Smoove’s underpinning conga accompaniment, this was yet another fine performance - containing ironic subject matter, due to the government’s current limiting to our movements, both Smoove and Turrell were quick to voice to those watching at home, the band’s desire tour as soon as they are able.

Slower tracks shone brightly tonight too with beautifully crafted “Without You” from “Antique Soul” impressing and “Stratos Blue” pair “It’s You” with its haunting melody and “Talk About Nothing” which is devoted to Turrell’s daughters, with the help of lead guitarist Lloyd Wright’s exquisite guitar solo, it was a fitting ode to the lead singer’s feelings about missing his girls while away for long spells touring.

Other new long-player standouts and there were many, included the rhythm-driven delights of “This Time”, “Still Don’t Know” and ghostly chorused “Fade Away”, which sees Mike Porter adding effects as he first stands on, then attempts to surf his keyboards - a little hard to do tonight on account of a low ceiling and camera above his head - but this didn’t detract from the antics and entertainment value of the helmet haired, cool jacket wearing, very capable keys wiz.

Not counting the new release, the Smoove & Turrell impressive back catalogue of 5 studio albums in 10-years was well represented and chock-full of usual crowd faves, including “Slow Down” with Turrell’s perfectly weighted vocal, 2018’s “Mount Pleasant” monster Mr Hyde and diving back into the new album, I have to mention my fave, the Frankie Valli “Who Loves You” reminding “Elgin Towers” - OK, it’s just me then! Lol. I just love this track, it shows off the talents of a band at the top off their game and Turrell’s vocal is class for start to finish.

You can’t review a Smoove & Turrell show without enthusing over the last tracks that bring the night’s entertainment to a glorious conclusion. The high energy of “Let Yourself Go” from 2011's “Eccentric Audio” album starts the band’s ascent to the top of the show. Then 2014’s “Broken Toys” banging single “Will You Be Mine” not only got the hordes watching at home out of there seats, if they weren't already, to groove along with the band but we were also treated to a sockless Mike Porter not only twiddling his nobs but playing keys with his feet - no cheesy tunes to be had here thank goodness!

Finishing in style, the final 2 tunes which usually bring the house down when I've previously caught a S&T live set and sounding as fresh as the first time I heard them... Singalong crowd-pleaser “Beggarman” from their debut album sounded nothing short of majestic with its horns a blazing and Turrell’s soul kilter set to max. Penultimate performance, Hot Chocolate’s 1971 hit “You Could’ve Been A Lady” in my humble opinion falls short of the more ballsy Smoove & Turrell upgrade but both are decent versions on their day. A great end to the show…

Well almost. Encore induced “I’m A Man”, again sounding like it’s got more under the hood, with Turrell’s sandpapered vocal and Smoove’s on-point music mastery than the Steve Winwood led 1967 Spencer Davis Group’s less gutsy original. It also sums up the night’s entertainment perfectly, as Smoove & Turrell prove yet again that their live shows, lockdown affected or not, are always hard to beat.
Words LEE TYLER

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