When you’ve been dubbed ‘The man with the golden voice’, the bar is always going to be set high when it comes to performances. Well tonight, Paul Carrack cleared that bar by some measure with a gig that displayed that soulful, sensuous voice to its full, leaving his audience dancing on their feet and braying for more.
The setlist covered every aspect of the artist’s impressive catalogue, from his beginnings in pub rock band, Ace, through his stint in Squeeze, and chart success with Mike and The Mechanics to his solo career which has spawned 20 albums. Throw in some judicially chosen classic covers all delivered in that silky voice, and you have a recipe for a musical evening of the highest Calibre.
I did wonder when the second song up, was the pop gem and Squeeze classic, ‘Tempted’, where can he go from here? How can he maintain this level? I should never have doubted the man, Paul Carrack knows exactly what he is doing, and the next hour and a half flies by as soft ballads mix with soul and R&B workouts, that are lapped up by the Opera House audience.
His solo songs might not have gained the public attention that they really deserve, but the execution of his superb band on soul-inflected songs such as ‘Satisfy my Soul’ and ‘Good and Ready’ are tight and on the money.
He allows time for solos for all the band members to show off their chops. The two drummers, and particularly the sax playing of Steve Breighton, becoming almost a signature sound of the night, produces an expansive, sound that fairly bounces off the old of the beautiful theatre. It’s clear that the band are enjoying themselves, and that joy is quite infectious through the capacity crowd, with the members swaying and clapping alone, some barely containing themselves from dancing.
Paul whizzes between songs, from his guitar centre stage spot, to a mini stage housing organ and keyboard. His stage presence is warm, engaging and dryly funny.
Highlights are plentiful, some quite unexpected. A touching version of Buddy Holly’s, ‘Raining in my Heart’ (We are told it was the first record he bought and holds a special place) and a beautiful rendition of Charlie Rich’s 70s country classic ‘Behind Closed Doors’, are soulful and immaculately judged for that glorious voice. Soulful really doesn’t cover it. ‘Love will Keep us Alive’ recorded by the Eagles, becomes a quiet mass sing-along
‘The living Years’ is a song that resonates with everyone, Paul’s delivery is measured, yet passionate and affecting. A number are people near me are clearly quite emotionally moved by the song.
From that point on, the music is upbeat, intense, stirring and wildly enjoyable. The ever-green ‘How Long’ leaves seats unnecessary as the crowd rise in unison to dance the rest of the night away. The Mike and The Mechanics standards ‘Over my Shoulder’ and ‘Set me Free’ continues the party.
Paul Carrack exudes Soul and class, tonight he delivered a masterclass with ease in musicality and the power of music to lift the spirit.