P.P. ARNOLD – PATTERNS, BRIGHTON 12.10.19
How lucky were we last night? We travelled back in time to 1966 to witness a star, the legendary sweet and powerful soul singer, P.P. Arnold, give a rare showcase of her amazing voice at Patterns, a dark, basement venue in Brighton. Her vocals were as good tonight as they would have been in the sixties.
Who is this phenomenon? Reading P.P. Arnold’s life story makes fascinating reading, from becoming a mum in the US at 17, and an ‘Ikette’, singing backing vocals for Ike and Tina Turner, to arriving in the UK and working for over five decades with such luminaries as Mick Jagger, The Small Faces, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Graham Nash, Jimmy Witherspoon, Nils Lofgren, Eric Burden, Freddie King and Barry Gibb… the list is endless. More recently, in the last couple of decades, Arnold has worked with the likes of Chip Taylor, renowned songwriter, Blow Monkeys’ frontman, Dr. Robert and Paul Weller, plus she has toured with many established soul and folk artists. She has also appeared in award-winning musicals in the West End and been involved with music videos and soundtracks… Impressed? You should be.
Last night’s set showcased her fabulous new album ‘The New Adventures of… P .P. Arnold’ which manages beautifully to combine authentic vintage Motown with a contemporary P.P. Arnold sound. There were covers interspersed with these tracks and the whole evening was a rich treat for the very appreciative Brighton crowd. Starting with ‘Though It Hurts Me Badly’, which Arnold said referred to her first inter-racial relationship, Arnold swiftly followed it with ‘Baby Blue’, a catchy pop song whose writer was in the audience and hailed by Arnold, bringing cheers from her excitable fans. Next came ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’ and a great version of The Stone Poneys ‘Different Drum’ which was written by Mike Nesmith of The Monkees. Arnold got us all grooving and then calmed us all down with ‘I’m A Dreamer’, which brought goosebumps to my arms and tears to my eyes with her vocal purity and power.
Every number was not only beautifully sung, but arranged and produced exceptionally well by Steve Cradock. The band, which consisted of two guitars, trumpet, trombone, drums and keyboard, plus two excellent backing singers who were never overpowering but rousing and complementary to Arnold’s vocals. There was a false start for ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and Arnold then took it to church, literally, not just with the lyrics, it worked well, although I prefer the simpler Beatles original personally. ‘The Magic Hour’ followed, written by Steve Cradock, and a brilliant soul/pop number with resplendent production values which pleased the northern soul fans particularly. Cradock, who produced the new album with Arnold, at his studio in the West country, is also the Paul Weller band’s talented guitarist.
Arnold brought the set to a close with the singalong ‘Angel Of The Morning’ to rapturous applause.
Her three encores started with ‘Life Is But Nothing’, a lovely stripped back number with only two acoustic guitars as accompaniment, and ended with ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’, written for Arnold by Cat Stevens. As Arnold laughingly told us “My version was ten years before Rod’s and, of course, I don’t think Sheryl Crow had even been born then!”.
It is amazing to think how long this wonderful singer has been bringing joy to us all with her beautiful voice. She asked the audience “Does anyone here remember the sixties?” The audience mostly replied loudly in the affirmative. “Does everyone feel glad they’re still here?” Well, the answer to that is “We do when you’re still here to sing to us, P.P. Arnold”.
P.P. Arnold setlist:
1. ‘Though It Hurts Me Badly’
2. ‘Baby Blue’
3. ‘Everythings Gonna Be Alright’
4. ‘Different Drum’ (The Stone Poneys cover)
5. ‘I Believe’
6. ‘Medicated Goo’ (Traffic cover)
7. ‘I’m A Dreamer’
8. ‘Shoot The Dove’
9. ‘Hold On To Your Dreams’
10 ‘(If You Think You’re ) Groovy’
11. ‘You Got Me’
12. ‘Eleanor Rigby’ (Beatles cover)
13. ‘Still Trying’
14. ‘Magic Hour’
15. ‘Angel Of The Morning’ (Merrilee Rush cover)
16. ‘Life Is But Nothing’
17. ‘God Only Knows’ (The Beach Boys cover)
18. ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’(Cat Stevens song)
P.P. Arnold (vocals)
Steve Cradock (lead guitar)
Andy Flynn (bass guitar)
Justin Dodsworth (keyboards)
Tony Coote (drums)
Steve Trig (trumpet) (Stone Foundation member)
Sam Smith (trombone)
Kesha Smith (backing vocals)
Connie McCall (backing vocals)
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