RUBY TURNER – TRADING BOUNDARIES, SHEFFIELD GREEN 3.2.24
Fitting in dates around her more regular performances with Jools Holland we find ourselves half way through Ruby Turner’s 2024 solo UK tour and unsurprisingly at another sold out show, this time at the bijou venue that is Trading Boundaries near Fletching in East Sussex. Playing to a small but appreciative and enthusiastic audience she provides over two hours of vibrant and emotional music split over two sets. There really is something quite extraordinary about a Ruby Turner show. Not only is her vocal musicianship exquisite; her humour and stage rapport is entertaining, and she exudes professionalism throughout every minute of the evening.
On stage she is an absolute vocal powerhouse and a force of nature and provides a dynamic approach to the evening, with every song, every lyric, every note dripping with enthusiasm, passion and emotion; and this evening was no different with her providing an absolutely outstanding performance from the moment she first stepped out onto the stage to the last. On stage there really is no holding her back as she pours her entire heart and soul into her performance, leaving not only herself breathless at times but also the audience along with her.
Yet a Ruby Turner show is not just about her as a phenomenal singer, but also about the musicians who accompany her. To stay with the high level of accomplishment that she produces, the other band members have to be phenomenal and creative musicians in their own right, so ensuring that they have the ability to match her vocal dynamics as well as to create and add their own flourishes to take the musicianship and performance to higher and higher levels.
The sets themselves are well balanced with four songs from her latest album, ‘Love Was Here’. We can’t call it her new album as it was released back during lockdown, but this is the first opportunity she has had to properly tour it since. Yet because of the time that we have had to embrace this album, these numbers now seem as much as old friends to us as the rest of the repertoire.
It’s fair to say such was the intensity and enjoyment resounding around this show that the two sets flew through time. The first set featuring more standard soul and gospel styled songs, whereas the second set leant more heavily towards the blues. Yet, both sets featured numbers that as they became more drawn out from the recorded versions took on lives of their own as the band, clearly fired up, took them through funky jazzy breakdowns, with guitar, bass and keyboard sounds washing over the audience in wave after wave of joyous complexity, interweaving with each other as each band member staked their own claim to the piece, before Ruby’s vocals soaring over the tumult, made each and every piece her own.
There was so much diversity and creativity on show that deliberating over every piece would turn this review into ‘War And Peace’, hence key moments specially deserving of mention must include ‘Masterplan’ from the ‘All That I Am’ album, introduced as a particularly personal song for Ruby, with a touching anecdote in relation to her departed father. This tune in itself started with the keys gently introducing a soft soul shuffle before developing into a more rhythmic gospel tinged groove with Ruby’s vocals softly and smokily integrated over the top.
‘Stay With Me Baby’, a top forty hit that was recorded for a Linda La Plante TV drama, brought a standing ovation at the end as she performed vocal gymnastics, taking the song through numerous singing styles before allowing Ruby to turn on a powerhouse performance as her vocals soared throughout the piece.
‘Runaway’ from her latest album was in a similar vein starting with a light funky edge before developing into a band extravaganza as it became an up-tempo party complete with enthusiastic audience participation.
Though the piece de resistance quite simply was the set closer, the Etta James classic ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’, where Ruby opened up and held the audience for nearly three minutes whilst she sang from the bottom of her heart unaccompanied. Every note, every word dripped heartache and emotion and the overwhelming rapturous explosion of appreciation from the audience at the end was deafening. This was a purely and quite extraordinary performance. Those lucky enough to have seen this were left with the memories of a quite incredible night to remember. Quite simply, Phenomenal.
Ruby Turner – vocals
Nick Marland – guitar
Simon Moore – drums
Clint Williams – bass
Peter Daley – keyboards
Ruby Turner setlist:
‘On The Defence’ [‘Responsible’]
‘In My Life (It’s Better To Be In Love)’ [‘Women Hold Up Half The Sky’]
‘So Amazing’ [‘So Amazing’]
‘Masterplan’ [‘All That I Am‘]
‘A Better Way’ [‘Love Was Here‘]
‘Love Was Here’ [‘Love Was Here’]
‘Stay With Me Baby’ [Single]
‘That’s My Desire’ [‘That’s My Desire’ E.P.]
‘Blow Top Blues’ [‘That’s My Desire’ E.P.]
‘Under Your Sky’ [‘Love Was Here‘]
‘Runaway’ [‘Love Was Here’]
‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ (Etta James Cover) [‘Women Hold Up Half The Sky‘]
‘If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)’ [‘Women Hold Up Half The Sky’]