Event Review: Al Green With Mavis Staples At The Orpheum Theatre
Boston - October 19, 2004
Despite the Red Sox game being just underway, the historic Orpheum was
packed with Soul faithful who had come to hear two of the greatest musical
preachers the world has ever known. And they did NOT disappoint!
Backed by her sister Yvonne and a be-tuxed set of "Staples Swingers," Mavis
Staples exposed her heart through her Gospel-y growl. From the first song
learned at "Pops" Staples' knee ("Will the Circle Be Unbroken") to offerings
from her latest CD, the ten years in the making Have a Little Faith
(Alligator), Staples showed that after 54 years, she still has it. And when
the chatty lobby began to loom larger in the background, Staples dug even
deeper and, through spiritually funky renditions of "Respect Yourself" and
"God is Not Sleeping," she reached over and above the crowd, but not so far
that "I'll Take You There" failed to make good on its word. In fact, by the
time she reached this rousing closer, the audience was ready to follow
But first, it was time for the sermon.
Resplendent in a white three-piece suit, Al Green returned to the Boston
stage among a musical congregation that included two percussionists, three
keyboardists, three horn players, three singers (including his daughter),
three guitarists, and even an occasional pair of lithe male dancers. Though
the stage was busy, Green never failed to stand out, even when working away
from the mic. With his still perfect falsetto and brilliant smile, Green
reached every corner of the room, occasionally going out into the crowd to
personally bless a chosen few. Though the opening offering of "I Can't Stop"
was a but sluggish, "Let's Get Married" had both the preacher and his
followers dancing in the aisles. On the spiritual side, "He's Coming Back"
gave everyone hope and "Amazing Grace" was both, especially when it
converted into a possessed coda of "Nearer My God to Thee."
Ever happy to
please his supportive and often ecstatic fans, Green also offered up such
classics as "Let's Stay Together," "How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?," and
even an inadvertent(?) crotch grab that sent some of the ladies to swooning.
Aside from a spirited attempt to exorcise the "Curse," Green left all
memories of the all-important ballgame in the lobby as he got the crowd
a-dancing and singing over and over again. After testifying on bended knees
that he was "Tired of Being Alone," Green closed with a version of "Love and
Happiness" that, as these things often do, brought everything together.
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